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Keep Moving For Better Ice Fishing

By Bob Jensen - February 1, 2002
In many areas of the Midwest ice fishing is just starting, but the season seems to have already reached a mid-point. The closer we get to spring, the better the ice fishing will get in many situations. We often hear about first ice being the best for ice fishing, but there are plenty of instances when the ice fishing gets even better as the season progresses.

One of the keys to ice-fishing success this time of year is mobility. In some years, mobility is limited due to snow. This year, so far at least, snow isn't a factor when it comes to moving around. On most Midwest bodies of water, you can get to pretty much wherever you want to go. If you keep moving until you find the fish, you're going to have more action. Some anglers prefer to fish out of a small shelter that is easy to pull from spot to spot, others like to carry a pail that contains their fishing equipment and also provides a place to sit while fishing. Either way, if you keep moving you'll probably find a few fish.

Here's how it goes:

Locate a structure that you think will hold some fish. In the winter, just like in the summer, sometimes the fish will be moving around, other times they will be holding on a particular area of a structure. If they're moving, often times they will bite willingly. If they're holding in a particular area, sometimes you're going to have to make them bite or you're going to have to keep moving until you find some biters. Don't forget where the ones that don't want to bite right now are though. You will want to stop back every now and then and see if they become hungry.

On really nice days it feels good to sit on a bucket out in the sun. Most of the time though, a shelter will be most pleasant. The shelter will protect you from the elements, and in clear water will enable you to see fish that may be in the area. Shelters reduce the amount of sun entering the hole, which allows an angler to see further into the water. The Ranger Solo portable shelter is preferred by many mobile ice-anglers. It has plenty of room for equipment, yet is lightweight. It provides a swivel chair that is comfortable and convenient.

Don't sit on one hole too long. If you see fish either with your eyes or via the assistance of a sonar, give them plenty of time to take the bait. However, if after changing lure size, color, and action a couple of times, move to a different spot if the fish don't cooperate.

It used to be that anglers sat in one spot all day because it was too much of a hassle to move. That excuse doesn't work anymore. StrikeMaster's series of Lazer augers fly through the ice quickly. The new lightweight portable shelters make moving a breeze. There is no reason not to be a mobile angler, and at this time of year, the mobile angler is going to catch the fish.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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