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Water Hazard

Reading a lake map

4 posts in this topic

If you are looking at a lake map (e.g. from the MN DNR website), what do you look for when trying to decide where to fish?

I understand that there are different types of fish, so you'd be looking for different things, but what are some of the general things to look for on a map for walleye? Northerns? Bass? Crappies?

Any suggestions are much appreciated!

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I'm a big fan of reviewing maps prior to going fishing. I love to pick out spots and then hit the water and try them. Anyone who has seen my maps knows I love to mark them up. smile.gif

Depending on the time of year, but for early season walleyes I look for points and bays adjacent to points transitioning from hard to soft bottom with weeds, inside turns alongside points where deeper water extends towards a bay can be good. Later on in summer I'll still fish these areas, but I'll also look to mid-lake structure such as humps/reefs, islands, shallow or deep saddles, deeper water points, and main lake flats adjacent to shallow and deep water. Many times maps don't show everything, so trolling and finding bottom transitions in the middle of "nowhere" can be gems if the masses don't know about them.

I'm not a huge pannie fisherman, but after ice-out I'll look to deep water first for suspended fish, then progress shallower based on advice from other pannie enthusiasts. New weed patches can be good early on. When the spawn is on, it's sight fishing time! My favorite! I'll look to bays and docks for both 'gills and crappies. As the spawn gets over and the water warms, I'll look to the outside edge of weedlines in the same areas I found them sight fishing. When walleye season starts, pannies take a back seat for me. smirk.gif

I don't fish pike and bass unless I'm in Canada and need a break from the 'eyes. smirk.gif

There are so many variables depending on the type of fish, time of year and water clarity (among a host of other factors). When I look at a map, I try to "think like a fish" to see where I'd hang out. Unfortunately, when I get on the lake, I never find many friends willing to play. blush.giftongue.giflaugh.gif My other big problem - finding the time to effectively work all these areas! tongue.gif

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Quote:

If you are looking at a lake map (e.g. from the MN DNR website), what do you look for when trying to decide where to fish?

I understand that there are different types of fish, so you'd be looking for different things, but what are some of the general things to look for on a map for walleye? Northerns? Bass? Crappies?

Any suggestions are much appreciated!


Well there really are too many variables to give you a hard and fast answer.

A couple of general good guess areas

Inside turns are usually good.

Transition areas are usually good. Say from weeds to deep water, Gravel to Muck etc...

An area where the depth drops off quickly is usually a hard bottom area, as softbottoms are often based on erosion and decomposition, so they gradually taper off into the deep.

In spring, in flows and north sides draw more fish due to better Oxygen content and warmer water... Shallow weeds draw more pan fish on any given Tuesday, so long as those weeds are decomposing.

The more combinations of these you can find in one place the higher your percentages get.

Something else to note...

In new moon conditions the Day bite (According to the Journal of research I've been keeping) is hotter... While during the Full moon the night bite is hotter...

And don't underestimate that the "Moon Line" counts as structure that will hold fish...

Such as if the Full moon is rising and casting a shadow from the forest on shore... That line where Shadow turns to Moonlight (If at a reasonable depth to other fish holding structure) will tend to hold fish.

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There are at least three concepts involved in locating fish and only one of them is usually present on a lake map - especially the DNR ones. The first concept is "structure" and every map will give you that - permanent features like points, channels, humps, reefs, flats, and drop-offs which you can interpret by reading the contour lines. Sometimes this is enough to find you fish as you apply their seasonal behavior to the landscape.

The second concept is "cover" which are things like docks, weeds, trees/wood, etc.. Their presence may help you fine tune your search. Fish may not be on every drop-off but on those drop-offs with weeds or wood etc.

Finally there are "edges" which mean transition zones from one type of environment to another - it may involve structure and/or cover or it may be something like mentioned earlier - soft mucky bottom to hard sandy bottom, or rocks to sand, or chunk rock to pea gravel, etc.

Hope this helps - others will likely explain it better than I did.

Daze Off

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