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help with location when studying lake maps


joeyquicksand*

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Be it that I am new to Ice fishing, can anyone help me read where the fish might be on a lake map while scouting a location?

Where are the walleyes?

Where are the northerns?

Do fish like rapid depth changes?

Is it similar to the summer for fish location?

please help me fish smarter

Any ideas on a bigger crappie?

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It can really all depend on the time of year as well as how the winter conditions take a toll on the lake. For example, early ice will have crappies holding in different areas then during midwinter. Same goes for years with heavy snow cover and thick ice. Air temps and weather systems can be a factor as well, not to mention that each lake can be different depending on water clarity, bottom composition, structure, etc.

A lot of things go into locating winter fish, but you're definitely on the right path by grabbing a lake map to begin your search. Often times its some of the most obvious spots on the map that will produce. Other times its spots that have absolutely no structure or any appeal whatsoever.

Right now I've been finding crappies out towards the mouths of shallow bays and along the deep edge. The deeper holes are also holding crappies, but I'm not one to fish in crowds so I tend to avoid those deeper holes. Deep breaklines leading up to a round underwater point or bar seem to be holding crappies right now too. We even got into a few in about 7 feet of water a week or so back as well.

If your lake has any deep holes off the tips of underwater points, bars or humps, then I would give those a try for crappies. Crappies sometimes like to have that shallow structure nearby for them to slide up on. I've also found that those crappies utilizing those shallow-deep areas are more aggressive as well. Since they are willing to make those movements, they seem more eager to feed because those movements are typical done because they are following their food.

Crappies holding out over the deeper holes can be more tight-lipped, which is the case for many lakes right now. Yes, you can mark a lot of fish out there, but they are more negative and they are typically overall smaller in size. Those spots usually get hit hard during the evening once the sun drops, and to be honest, those areas are going to only see a repid feeding level at those times. But, some of those other areas that utilize deep and shallow water can produce solid daytime bites as well. This way there is no need to pile up over one of the deep holes as evening approaches in order to land a few crappies, you can instead venture someplace else and catch your crappies during the day and be off the ice when the crowds show up.

Fishing patterns in the winter can be tough some days. My best advice would be to study and lake map and pick 4-5 spots that look promising, then start hitting each spot until you locate fish. I typically work over each spot for about 30-45 minutes before I move on. In this span I might punch 30-40 holes over various areas on that one spot. You want to be sure that you adequately covered the area before you move on.

Don't just look at it as "I have to catch fish." Use it is a learning strategy as well, and keep a mental note of the areas you locate fish so you can plan ahead for the future. Before you know it you'll have a grasp on how those fish relate to different parts of the particular lake you're fishing.

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Great post!! I love reading maps, and have alot to learn. I get completely entranced when looking at maps, especially the good really detailed ones. I'm not that exerienced with the crappies and their locations so that previous post is being permenantly etched into my brain!

I agree it shouldn't only be about catching fish...you can learn alot without catching anything. Most obvious is...there is no fish here, at least not now. When scouting in any season I make mental and physical notes on what I find. If I find something like a small isolated rock bar thats not on a map I mark it, with a gps if you have one, and plan to hit it in the summer. I have found lots of seasonal spots while fishing in the opposite season.

The more you do it and the more you will develope an instinct for such things. I cant really point it out..but there will be times when studying a map, I'll look at a piece of structure that may not be that dynamic but I'm drawn back to it. Usually those spots produce. I also strongly agree to get away from the crowds at times. Not only do I like my privacy, but these fish have seen and heard everything and everybody.

I have a spot on Ottertail for perch and eyes that I absolutely love!! Its off a bigger bar which usually holds a bunch of perm houses, I set up about 200 yrds away on a smaller bar that was barely noted on my map and that I found just by drilling lots of holes. Many times I've been catching fish and quality fish when the others where getting blanked. I dont know if this is the case..but I think they find refuge on this smaller bar that has all the same charactaristics of the big one, only without the pressure. I've never had company on this spot.

Dont be afraid to think small. What I like to find when looking for a perch/eye spot is a bar or point that has at least some kind of flat on top..doesn't have to be big but just someplace for the fish to get up on and actively feed and roam around. I've found these to produce better than points and bars that come to a pinnacle and then right back down. I should note..that some days the fish are at the base or even off the bar alittle bit and other times right on top!

I could ramble on and on about this, I love looking at maps...I look at lake maps that I have no intention of fishing any time soon, its just fun to me. I'm no expert..just what my own experience has shown me..hopefully it'll help out alittle.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

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