Early Ice: A Quiet and Productive Time of the YearBy Jerry Carlson - November 22, 2016
Our goal for this particular day was quite simple. We were going to look for walkable ice so we could get that first ice fishing trip under our belt.
Our options were somewhat limited. The late start to the winter had kept many lakes open longer than normal. However, there are always a few lakes that tend to freeze earlier than others. Our plan was to check out these bodies of water first.
With PFDs on and our gear loaded into a couple of Fish Traps, we began the trek out to the deep basin we typically fish. We stopped a couple of times to check the ice thickness. Four to five inches greeted us every time.
Once at our chosen location, we began the process of searching for fish. One of us dribbled water on the ice while the other ran the Vexilar. By placing water on the ice for the transducer, one can easily shoot through the ice and get accurate readings of the water column without drilling holes.
After locating suspended fish, we drilled out a dozen holes and prepared to begin the winter fishing season. Using our standard gear of two-pound-test Berkley Micro Ice, tiny Drop jigs and Maki plastic, it didn't take long for us to have panfish flopping on the ice.
As we roamed from hole to hole looking for aggressive fish, we kept up an intermittent conversation. Our casual comments took us in many directions, but focused a great deal on the lack of activity on this lake.
That is one of the beauties of early ice. Not only does a person get to enjoy the tug on the line from feisty fish, it is also a quiet and peaceful fishing event with little pressure from other eager anglers. It is a chance to fish those ideal locations I tend avoid later in the season.
The early ice is one of my favorite panfish fishing periods of the year. Between lack of pressure and cooperative fish, it is hard to beat the first few weeks of the season.