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Pile of Panfish

1/20/21 @ 7:31 AM

I was fishing Lake Mendota many years ago during the perch boom. There were pods of people covering the roaming school in deep water. I decided to fish way on the outskirts far away from the crowds but in a similar depth. I drilled a hole and sent the jig down but it never made it to bottom. Big perch were all the place. I was proud of my catch so I started my perch pile. 

Nobody really was paying much attention to me until I see a guy approaching from shanty town. He was at least 70. He told me I was “being an idiot”. I asked what he was talking about. He told me he can see my pile of fish from his shanty with binoculars. He guaranteed many in the shanty town had binoculars and if I didn’t hide my fish I would soon be surrounded by shanty’s. 

From that point in I’ve always kept my panfish away from public view. Put them under a bucket, in a cooler, anywhere but where guys can see you, especially in crowded lakes. 

His parting words were “Whenever I see a pile of perch on the ice I know it’s a guy under 30.” 

I thought it was good advice and have followed it since. 


1/21/21 @ 12:42 PM
USER SINCE 8/29/06

I don't go very much anymore, but I do remember one afternoon I got off of work at 3 and bolted straight to a lake about 30 minutes away. By 3:45 I was drilling holes and checking them with the Marcum. I found the motherload of marks about 5-15 feet down in 24 fow. I literally had a limit of gills and crops on the ice flopping all around me about 15 minutes later. Insane fishing. The only other guy anywhere near me was an older guy in his 70's in a flipover. He was grumbling and fussing with his shack, saying how bad the fishing was. I popped open a celebratory IPA and wandered over to see how he was doing. He had 3 gills in his bucket and said he wasn't marking anything. I told him to come over by me and see how I had been doing. At first he was reluctant but I told him he would be glad he did. I showed him my bucket of pannies and pointed to my Marcum. His eyes lit up and he dropped down his jig. Immediately he had a fish. We switched locators, and I stood there for 10 minutes swigging my beer and listening to his hoots and cackles. I'll never forget that day. It didn't last long, but it was one of the best days ice fishing I ever had.

1/21/21 @ 10:33 AM
USER SINCE 4/17/07

As soon as I catch a keeper it goes in the bucket.  If I want a picture of a pile a fish I dump them off when I am walking off the ice and no one is around me. 

1/21/21 @ 9:12 AM
USER SINCE 12/19/11
"They're down there, just not active today. Probably caught 3 worth keeping, if I was keeping fish"  - If anyone's said this to you at the landing, we've probably crossed paths. It almost sounds robotic I say that line so much. 

1/21/21 @ 8:53 AM
USER SINCE 9/27/01

I've become a pretty good judge of a person's intentions on the ice. You have some people who are just friendly and want to chew the cud a little. I'm open to the exchange but still am very careful on what intel I share. Then there are the encroachers who are looking to sponge off of you. I have a pretty good method that keeps them moving on. Never make eye contact with them and answer their questions with a few words as possible. I usually try for one-word answers. "Nope" is my favorite.

And never let anyone see your pile of fish.

1/21/21 @ 8:50 AM
USER SINCE 5/21/03

I was ice fishing a little puddle of a lake way up north a few years ago.  Small lake.  Only a couple of houses on it and we were lucky enough to be staying at a house on the lake.

We went out in the afternoon and just lit up the crappies, gills and walleyes.  It was crazy ice fishing action.

There was one portable shack on the other side of the lake.  Probably half a mile from us.

Sure enough, dude comes walking over to talk.  Our group reeled up the jigs and jigged about a foot under the ice.  Hoping he would just leave.

Nope, he sat there and talked about how poor the fishing was on the lake.  He hadn't caught a thing.  We had our fish in a shack, out of view.  Told him we weren't doing the best either.  Took him 25 minutes before he left.

We quickly moved our shack to obstruct his view of where we were fishing and went right back to catching fish like crazy.  Kept enough for a nice meal that evening.

The next day?  He didn't come back.  If we had our pile of fish sitting there, or if we jigging the bottom and caught those big pannies, he would have come back to that spot and probably brought friends.

That is the game with ice fishing.  Stealth. 

1/21/21 @ 8:38 AM

It’s a good point lakeshiner. If I have a hot tip up hole and plan to return the next day I will make sure to cover any signs of struggle at that hole. Frozen blood around a hole is an automatic drill spot for a tip up hole. Weeds laying around one hole surrounded by clean holes is a sure sign. Cover the blood and weeds with snow or move the weeds away from the hole. Footprints are another give away. There are 6 tip up holes in an area drilled the day before and 1 of those holes has a matted footpath to it while the others don’t. There are a lot of signs out there if you’re looking and believe me guys are looking. 

1/21/21 @ 7:53 AM
USER SINCE 7/20/09

I also like to avoid people, I don't trust anyone.  I constantly have to tell my kids and wife to be quiet because they are the loud type who like to advertise every fish we catch.  They don't quite understand how your voice can carry over an open lake.  I can literally see people turn and look every time....

Early ice this year we were on a good spot and pretty much alone.  I use my camera to find weed edges or whatever structure I want, flags were popping all day long.  The others in the area were catching very few, probably 5 of our flags to 1 of everyone else.  I watch the others, they just wander out and punch some random holes and sit there.  My tipups are on a nice edge and they are probably sitting in a big mat of weeds.  The next weekend we got there a little late and magically our spot was full.  That's the thing about ice... you can't hide your old holes very easily.  Oh well, that just means we find a new spot and do the same thing.  Always good to have a lot of options.

1/20/21 @ 9:27 PM

To each their own but power augers drilling all around you isn’t the best for the bite. Your right though, I don’t have much faith in my ability to continually catch fish. When I’m catching fish I am definitely paranoid of anything changing the bite. Fair point. I’ll still hide them. 

1/20/21 @ 9:24 PM

If you had faith in your abilities to find and catch fish you wouldn't care if people fished by you or what information you shared. 

1/20/21 @ 5:11 PM
USER SINCE 6/14/05

deadbuck....LOL..old guys with binoculars...the old guys already know where the fish are..or are you calling 30 ish old......

actually I was shocked a few years ago learning people fished with and open water....I did learn to approach those people so I could get some sort of pic at least of the numbers on the boat (open water) so in case I was turned in (not a chance I was overbagging) so we could talk at a later date.......

sad isn't it?

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