Yep, you guessed it, it’s that time of year again ice shenanigans is gone. Put the cap on the ice fishing season and let it fester until next August when you get the itch to dig it out again and wish it was here. A lot of my fellow iceheads are already thinking of next season, but me, I’m not. I’m the type of dude that actually enjoys our 2.5 seasons here in northern Minnesota.
Enjoying what’s right in front of me is where I find my happy place. I’m looking out over the lake right now, the decaying ice has that “I dare you to come out here” look, teasing me to walk out to the outer edge of the bullrushes and catch some ultra late ice panfish. But I’m not going to, I’m going to look ahead a few days and plan some panfish stalking once the ice finally loses it’s slippery grip on the lakes.
Ice out comes at different times every year, I mean heck, I was ice fishing on May 6th last year, the year before the ice was out in March sometime, but what remains a constant is how the fish relate to the changing water temps once the ice is gone. You know what else is a constant? Darn near every angler wants to be the first one out there catching fish with the long rods!
The excitement of that long cast and retrieve, the ever present rusty premature hook set at every “thump” you feel on the retrieve, the fight on horizontal line, those things are all what gets my blood pumping a little faster this time of year. Well I didn’t mean to get off track, but that’s pretty easy for me to do this time of year.
Water temps, that’s where we need to focus our attention right now. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that since we live in the northern hemisphere, the angle of the sun has the most intensity on the northern side of the lake, and that sunlight is absorbed by darker colors, hence the fact that I focus most of my attention on dark bottom bays on the north side of lakes this time of year because that’s where the warmer water will be. Think Cattails, not bullrushes, cattails like to grow in those dark bottom bays.
Being stealthy in your approach is another key factor while fishing these areas this time of year, the fish move in and out of these areas all day long. Whether you are coming in on a boat or some other vessel, or you are stalking them on foot, being careful and quiet will lessen the chance of you spooking your prey. Long casts are key, and sometimes using a weighted float to get that extra distance on your cast is a must.
I like to use a small weighted float with my favorite jig plastic combo underneath it a foot or two depending on the depth I’m targeting. Long casts and working it back slowly, popping it once in a while. Work the area over good, and if it fits the right criteria, or you think the area looks fishy, don’t leave too soon, like I said they move in and out of these areas all day long, you might have spooked them out of there and didn’t know it. Give them some time they will be back.
Anyhow, it’s that time of year again, don’t say I didn’t tell you.