Forget the magazine articles, the common sense, conventional wisdom, and what others say...what are some things you are certain of and "know" based on your own experience ice fishing....
In my experience....
In Green Bay we fish zeeb mussel infested waters. Lighter line and stealthier habits are required to get more bites in the clear water. Whitefish have big eyes and seem better educated than ever. On another note: Lots of walking and no driving. The ice is much harder lately. I'm falling more often and it hurts a lot more when I hit the ice, than when I was younger.
There are no good spots that are short walks in SE Wisconsin after first 10 days of ice.
I’m no real ice fisherman, but here’s my accumulated wisdom.
1. Early ice and late ice
2. Those fancy cabin/shanties up on Mille Lacs and LotW beat the snot out of a 5 gallon pail on the backwaters...
1. I catch more fish on ice without snow on it. Not sure this isn't a common thing though.
2. For panfish, i've noticed I catch more large fish on smaller baits. Especially for crappies. What I found the past few years fishing for them is if you have too heavy a jig or a big tungsten, it would scare the crappies away on the drop. These crappies were large and definitely big enough to eat most jigs, but they wanted the bait to "flutter" on the fall. Not flutter like a light flutter spoon, but just not drop like a rock. This was all winter long, and I found myself using one or 2 jigs and never switching all winter. I noticed perch were less picky about how fast a jig fell though. I noticed people I was fishing with fishing too big, and I see why they do it as it's fast to fish and get back down, but it just doesn't work as well.
I fish wi You are exactly right. Totally subject to ones observations and experiences...That’s what makes this kind of chatter interesting to me. No right or wrong answer. And, you are definitely right on your observation. Good point indeed.
Clueless, your second point is a very good one now that I think about it. Hunting season really plays a role up here more so than down south just due to the timing of our ice and hunting season. And, definitely so many lakes that you don’t tend to see people as much.
Nice observations, but more/less subjective to one's own situation.
1) If you know what you're doing when you set your tip ups, but then hours later you get no flags, it's not your fault. They're just not biting or never found your bait.
1. I freeze all my dead minnows shiners and use them later in the season.
Northern and bass I often catch on dead bait.
2. I don't agree that northern anglers don't fish as much early ice. There are so many lakes up here you just don't see all the guys at community spots. Some years (like 2019) early ice is during the rut and gun season and lots of guys are hunting.
3. Stained lakes (at least the ones I fish) seem to go dead w/ deep snow and slush.
1. Suckers or shiners for pike...it does matter, but it also seems to depend on what lake you are on!
2. Stained waters...Mid day is best for me.
3. The last hour of ice fishing is not necessarily any better than the other hours except on a few lakes....
4. It can be hard to find the right sized bait up north at times....it's usually pretty easy in Southern Wi.
5. Smelt is over-rated. I just don't have much success, and I do use them often enough to have some track record.
6. Bigger bait is definitely better for bigger fish. It matters.
7. Two shiners is often better than one.
8. Suckers last a lot longer in a minnow bucket than shiners if you want to fish again the next week. (Thanks to iFishWi for giving me tips on keeping bait alive a long time)
9. People in southern Wisconsin are a lot more wiling to fish on very early/ very late ice than people in northern Wisconsin.
10. Bass will bite well in winter in the right situation.