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Pflueger Guy

Is it too late to start ice fishing in early February? Most would probably say it's never too late to start fishing...But I decided give ice fishing a try for the first time this season. I just bought a rod and pole combination, Marcum VX-1(most affordable for me based on what it does), and a buddy of mine just bought a portable house an an auger. So he will apparently be my fishing partner for the rest of the ice season until I get my own portable and auger next year. He doesn't have much ice fishing experience either.

As far as fishing goes, I'm not new to the area lakes and fishing. I'm a complete rookie when it comes to ice fishing though. A couple of questions if anyone wouldn't mind giving me some tips.

What kind of lures/bait work in the ice? Only lure I was able to find that was somewhat popular for walleyes/perch were buckshot rattle spoons. I'll have to do further research even if given some artificial lures are mentioned. I know wax worms and minnows can work. I've also seen some red wax worms, are those any more effective?

And secondly, how do you go about finding fish? Go out on a lake, pick a spot, drill some holes, and keep repeating until you mark some fish? I've watched a lot of videos on how to work my Marcum VX-1 so I have a pretty good understanding of how it works already.

I also have most depth maps of lakes which are probably somewhat outdated, but which depths are common for crappie bites? Walleye bites? Or are they completely random?

I know this post has a lot of questions scattered throughout, but don't feel obligated to answer every single one of them, just one would be great. Thanks in advance!

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Mankato-Ice-Man

Welcome to a pretty cool sport, no pun intended.

If you post what lakes you will be fishing, you might get more specific answers a far as what depths and times by lake from guys and gals who fish those lakes.

as far as lures, depends on what you are fishing for.

My go to lure is a Fat Boy and I usually tip it with a waxie and a red larva, or just one of the two depending on how thats working. Minnows work too. Dont be afraid of lures that look too small, most days the smaller the better.

as far as where to fish, most say avoid the big crowds, but until you learn more, you may want to stay near the edges of the groups of houses. Dont be afraid to talk to people. I think for the most part, people will be helpful if you ask the right questions. Just let them know you are real new to the sport and ask for pointers. Might get you further than sounding like you are looking for thier deepest, darkest best kept secrets.

hope that helps. I know you will get a lot more and probably a lot better answers too.

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timk

when you see a bunch of houses and you have a map of that lake try to match the same kind of spot on the lake and try there. should hold fish for same reasion other spot does sometimes it works out

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harvey lee

If you are fishing for gills, perch or crappie, I would get a nice spring bobber rod or at a minimum, get a spring bobber and add it to your rod.

So many times these fish will bite so light that if you do not have the spring bobber, you will miss more than you will ice.

For bait for the panfish, I like the euro larve or spikes. They have a tougher skin than the waxies and you do not have to rebait near as much.

I typically go to the lake with both white and red colors of the spikes.

For jigs and spikes, there are days that the clouds can cover the sun and you will need a different color to turn the fish on.

Any time a cold front or pressure system comes in, you will more than likely need to downsize your bait size for them to bite.

Ther are many panfish jigs on the market today.

My go to jig this year has been the Bro-bug. I also use the JB Lures Ju-Ju alot tipped with a waxie.

The best tip I could give you is cut alot of holes and check them all by different structure.

Many lakes I fish, I will start shallow in a corner of a bay, by weeds or on top or just off a breakline. I would drill 5-10 holes and check each one for a few minutes, no action, drill 5-10 more. I know this sounds like alot of drilling but it is the best way to learn a lake and get on active fish. Find a good spot, mark it down or save it on a GPS if you have one.

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Comit 2

Learn how to play cards and drink beer. laugh

Well that is my best ice fishing tip. Then again, I don't Ice fish or play cards.

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zappy

"Is it too late to start ice fishing in early February?"

Actually it's a great time to start. My favorite time of year to fish is the first week or two of March. The crowds have left by then and it is often warm enough to just bring a minimal amount of gear and walk around the lake. Most years, warm water is starting to trickle back into the lakes and the fish become more active. Small tungsten jigs with waxies always do the trick for me. I started ice fishing about ten years ago and through the advice on this forum and talking with people out on the ice I can usually find something to catch. Good luck!

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Scott M

Is it too late to start ice fishing in early February? Your intuition that follows is correct; it's never too late to start.Most would probably say it's never too late to start fishing...But I decided give ice fishing a try for the first time this season. I just bought a rod and pole combination, Marcum VX-1(most affordable for me based on what it does), and a buddy of mine just bought a portable house an an auger. So he will apparently be my fishing partner for the rest of the ice season until I get my own portable and auger next year. He doesn't have much ice fishing experience either.

As far as fishing goes, I'm not new to the area lakes and fishing. I'm a complete rookie when it comes to ice fishing though. A couple of questions if anyone wouldn't mind giving me some tips.

What kind of lures/bait work in the ice? Ice fishing seems to feature specialized lures that focus on vertical or mostly vertical presentations (Jigs, jigging spoons, Darters, Droppers). Those are good designs to stick with as they have been proven to work over time. I'm certain you have a lot of summer tackle that will be useful in the winter. If you are just starting and on a budget, start by raiding your summer collection. Only lure I was able to find that was somewhat popular for walleyes/perch were buckshot rattle spoons. I'll have to do further research even if given some artificial lures are mentioned. I know wax worms and minnows can work. I've also seen some red wax worms, are those any more effective?Do a site search for the color red and you'll see some interesting discussions about how red works. Some swear by it, others aren't convinced...Live bait works well, euros/spikes/wigglers, waxworms, crappie minnows, fatheads, suckers...Don't forget to try plastics, coming in as a newbie you'll have an open mind and can play around with them. I wouldn't say it's an advanced technique but its worth pursuing fresh out of the gate

And secondly, how do you go about finding fish? Go out on a lake, pick a spot, drill some holes, and keep repeating until you mark some fish? I've watched a lot of videos on how to work my Marcum VX-1 so I have a pretty good understanding of how it works already. The $64,000 question! Ice fishing, like open water fishing, is predicated on structure fishing. Start your searches on or near structure, then move around and drill holes until you find fish. You've got the right idea, just get out there and execute. Repetition builds confidence.

I also have most depth maps of lakes which are probably somewhat outdated, but which depths are common for crappie bites? Walleye bites? Or are they completely random? This is a timing question. February is different from December or March. Each lake is a little different. It's definitely not random, there are patterns to be observed. Get out there and find what works on the water you fish.

I know this post has a lot of questions scattered throughout, but don't feel obligated to answer every single one of them, just one would be great. Thanks in advance!

Good luck flimsy. My best advice is to crawl around the different forums on this website and learn as much as you can. Use the search option for topics that interest you. Attend a HSO get together and learn first hand from others. A small taste of success and you'll be hooked.

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Pflueger Guy

Thanks for all the great tips and advice! I did get a chance to go out on the lake twice last week. I decided to stop by Lake Washington.

First day I fished at 12 feet on the west side of the lake. Marked quite a few fish, but couldn't really get any of them to commit. I did end up catching two nice bluegills though. Jigging waxies on a plain hook seemed to trigger better bite as opposed to letting it sit there. I was primarily fishing in 12 feet due to the really cold and windy afternoon; I could not move around and drill more holes because I was simply too cold.

My second day out was a lot nicer and I was able to move around on the lake and try different depths. I fished at 36 feet, 30 feet, and 18 feet on the east side of Lake Washington. Marked some fish at 36 feet and 30 feet, but again could not get them to bite. I was using crappie minnows, waxies, buckshot spoons, and jigging raps. I did land two small walleyes at 18 fow, both less than 10 inches long caught on crappie minnows.

Now I didn't travel far on the lake and only drove where there were already car tracks because I didn't know which areas were safe and what not. Is it safe to assume that the middle of the lake(Washington) is safe to drive a small vehicle on in this mid-late ice season? There are some structures I would like to try and fish, but I've been hesitant to drive down south of the lake. I do know that the "narrows" between the east and west side is generally not safe. Of course I could also just walk out there on a nice day and fish off a bucket.

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TruthWalleyes

Especially as a beginner, it is not wise to venture off to new areas of the lake. Your right, never drive through those narrows, not close to points, large cracks, etc. Now that you've found a few areas where the fish are hanging out, keep trying different jigging methods to convince these buggers to bite. Drive slow on the ice, 10mph is common, anything more is unnecessary. I would also suggest that as a beginner you stick to 1 lake, lake washington is a good lake to stick with. It's my primary lake in SC MN...Fish it and start to develop patterns, gain confidence, etc. If you switch from lake to lake, you'll never pattern these SC lakes, at least it'll be MUCH MUCH harder to do so.

Good luck, stay safe. Lots of info on these forums. As a new season arrives, i like to glance through last years discussions from the same season to anticipate fish movements from last year. i.e. you can guarantee that the big groups of ice shacks are in the same spots each year, and at the same time each year...It's always good to be there first wink

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