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First Ice

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One of my favorite things about this area is the fact that it holds many quality fisheries that are relatively small and shallow, respectively, and they can ice-up pretty fast.

That means I'm on the lake alot sooner then those who only target their bigger favorite bodies of water during the early ice season.

A few years ago, I was getting the itch real bad to stand on the hard water. My favorite few bodies of water had a skim of ice, but nothing near safe.

I dug out the old trusty book, and paged through until I found a lake that was small, shallow, and held some decent numbers of my favorite specie, the Crappie.

Off to the lake I went, chisel in hand.

WHOA!!! 3" of solid clear ice! I raced home for the auger, sled, and Vex, and back to the lake I went.

The lake was shallow, topping out at 9 feet max, and very dark water. The sun was shining high and brite, and there was no wind. But there were also no Crappies to be caught.

I moved about for a couple hours, marking 0 fish, and decided that I would try my luck again that evening, during sun-set.

A friend and I returned to the lake an hour before sun-set, and went back to my old holes to set up for the evening. Worry was the trip would be a goose egg, but at least we were out fishing. smile.gif

Hole hopping for 45 minutes still produced no marks on the Vex, and we were getting anxious.

One last hole, I thought...

Viola!!! There was a red blip down there.

I shook, nervously, as I dropped my waxie down, and watched the red blip slowly rise for the bait. I twitch of the rod tip....BAM...I missed him, and away the red blip went. "$@!!%&!" I announced.

"Could have been a perch" my buddy said...

I grew irritated.

Another blip appreared, and I was more detirmined this time. I have to know what it is.

The fish approached, the tip twitched...I paused...It twitched again, and then it bent.



"FISH ON!!!!!" I hear in return.

I reeled up a 12.5 inch Crappie, my partner reeled up a 13 inch Crappie simutaneously.

Now we're exited.

We only caught 12 total Crappies that evening, but they were all very nice slabs.

It's those kinds of trips that are the most memorable and fond to look back on.

Anyone else have a story to share about a first ice outing?

Good fishing,
[email protected]

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thems some nice crappies UJ. I have a place on fleming lake, which is now known as the little crappie of the world. we walked out on 3 inches of clear ice one early december, trying to get to the sunken island in the middle, it was windy and warm, so we were walking single file with the leader punching the ice as we walked. after the ice cracked all around us, we decided to walk no further, and tryed our luck, and no luck. so we did not want to give up, we went to whispering lake, which probally had less ice, we slowly walked out while using the vex to check depth, we hit a good area and stopped, we got our limit in about 2 hours, nothing big, but also nothing small. it was exciting, and dangerous.

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I did the same one year as a buddy and mine headed onto the early ice with the chisel.

Everywhere we checked had 4-5" of ice, and we made the foolish mistake of taking a different route back in, without pounding the chisel as we went.

The ice was cracking, and we looked down to see the ice subastantially thinner then any of the other stuff we were on (my guess is 1.5" of ice)

We kept our pace, and said to eachother "just keep walking".

Luckily we made it off without a trouble, but it certainly was a lesson re-learned.

Good fishing,
[email protected]

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • rundrave
      @Rick G   have you changed your approach or how you are fishing with no snow cover this year? It seems to really have changed things. Fish are spooky to  any movement above the ice.  Even just jigging a rod with your hand etc. spooks fish. Weed lines are not dying off etc., fish are staying up shallower etc.   I have had a lot more luck just dead sticking and bobber fishing and being away from holes or intentionally drilling holes in slush pockets or drifts to eliminate shadows etc.
    • smurfy
      Awesome cause Rick!!👍👍👌
    • Rick G
      Fishing has been pretty good for the most part with the exception of a slow day mixed in here and there. Been on a few different lakes in the last week. Ice conditions continue to fluctuate depending on warm and cold spells.  Right now there is 7-8 inches on the lakes I have been on. Snow cover is just about gone again, and with the warm days coming I think our ice season might be coming to an end locally.  Today I fished with a good buddy and we were on a mission... To find enough fresh fish to feed the folks at a local veterans home Friday dinner.  Mission accomplished!!!   Found a good mix of perfect eater size fish😁.   
    • leech~~
      Thanks for clearing up your statement.  So what is the daily limit down there?  
    • SkunkedAgain
      How thick is the snow on the lake? Is there any left?
    • Kettle
      His guide business harvests less than 1,000 teal a year. The state of Louisiana harvests over 150,000 teal a year and over 2 million ducks total. If that makes sense. 
    • leech~~
      Maybe I'm confused, but I hope one guide is not killing anywhere near the birds as an entire state of hunters?  
    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the south end...   Ice fishing continues strong and it is still winter on the border.    Overnight temps in the teens and twenties are maintaining ice nicely.  Fishing continues to be excellent.  It has been an incredible year for walleyes and saugers with both numbers and size.     Resort fish houses and sleeper fish houses are available.  Some ice roads are allowing pickup trucks pulling wheelhouses as well.  Check with each individual ice road for specific limits.   As always, and certainly this year, it is important to stay on the resort ice roads.  It is tempting to go off on your own as there isn't much snow, but that is a risky move any time of the year.  Resorts and outfitters keep their roads on the best ice and monitor it numerous times per day.   Lake of the Woods enjoys an extended ice fishing season each year.  Fish houses are allowed on the ice through March 31st, the walleye / sauger season goes through April 14th and the pike season never ends.   The majority of ice fishing for walleyes and saugers is taking place in 24 - 34 feet of water.  Jigging one line and using a live minnow on the second line is the way to go.   Pike anglers fishing shallower shoreline breaks and reporting good activity and big fish.  Pike activity will only increase as we approach the month of March.  Arming your spread with a mixture of live and dead baits will allow you to quickly figure out what the pike wants that day. Alewife, smelt, herring, numerous sizes of live suckers, or even large shiners work well. On the Rainy River...  Most ice fishing is taking place on the lake.  There are a couple of resorts that ice fish on the Rainy River.  Know ice conditions or work through a resort or outfitter for safety.    The river is open east of Birchdale.  Those who enjoy the spring open water season on the river are optimistic the river will open early.  Is your boat and fishing gear ready when it does? Up at the NW Angle...   Another very good week of ice fishing up at the Angle.  Walleyes, saugers, jumbo perch, eelpout, pike and some big crappies in the mix.   Water conditions are clearer this winter compared to most.  For that reason, the morning and evening bites have been stronger than midday overall. Jigging one line and deadsticking the second line is the way to go.  Electronics help in determining what the fish want that given day and will up your catch of fish.   Ice fishing has been excellent, come on up.  It's still winter on the border! 
    • Kettle
      There's only one Waterfowl guide in the country that I went to. He runs about 20 trips a year. So he harvests about 185,000 less teal a year than some of the individual southern states. In MN, lots of the teal are gone before the early teal season 
    • leech~~
      Wow, don't want to be one of those guys.  But, you don't think such liberal limits down there, hurts the northern population next spring?  
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