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Early Ice Patterns For Prairie Lake Trophy Walleyes
by Paul Rohweller

The cold weather has found me waiting anxiously for safe ice and the tug of the first walleye for the ice season. Where is a person going to start?

If you are not extremely familar with a particular body of water get a map. Locate key points and saddle areas near the largest and deepest portion of the basin. What you are looking for are areas that will funnel fish, such as a saddle connecting an island to shore which can be very good if it has a flat nearby and ties two basins together. Areas like this can also be much deeper than a person thinks at first glance.

Back in the 1930's many of the prairie lakes were dry enough to farm with a little ditch work. Time spent searching long points that look like they will run all the way from one shore to the other will often reveal ditches that were dug years ago. These are fish superhighways.

As most of us know, walleyes like to follow edges like weedlines and old treeline growth (another by product of the dirty thirties ) and if you can find a funnel area it will up your odds tremendously.

During the day walleyes will often suspend out over the main basin moving into these shallower areas to feed at twilight on perch and whatever else is handy. It is important to be stealthy and finish your noise early in these shallow areas. Sometimes I like to drill my holes the night before and cover them up with styrofoam if I know I'm going to fish there in the morning. Drilling and stomping around on the ice during primetime is unacceptable, stealth rules.

Presentation can vary but day in and day out jigging spoons like the angel eye spoons by Scenic Tackle and the varmint spoon in the perch glow colors tipped with a torn off fathead head work wonders.

Your jigging should start off fairly agressive, advertise that your bait is down there and then back it off to just slight jiggles, enough to make the minnow head just swing back and forth a little.

Over the years of watching walleyes I have noticed that most of the time they can be extremely curious like a cat , they will look at anything you put in front of them but it will take some experimentation to find out what your fish want.

Remember primetime is the right time so be ready, the good bite might only last a few minutes.

Good Luck
Paul Rohweller
Pine to Prairie Guide Service

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