The key to great winter fishing is finding the fish pattern for the particular lake that your fishing. It also makes fishing more fun and challenging.
On an early ice lake the fish tend to be in shallow waters where the weeds are. This particular trend doesn’t last long, however and the fish will soon move on too deeper water as we get into the early part of January to late February. Mid winter fishing is going to be a lot of hit and miss until you find the pattern to the fish on your lake. This will take a lot of all day fishing and many hole drilling. But, well worth it once you find the pattern. For example, I am now finding fish in the 15-20 FOW range, with a bite either early morning or late afternoon.
Most lakes where there are crappies, I can pretty much set my watch by the pattern. Moving from the deep water to the edges and breaks from the deep basins. Using a couple of my favorite tools, the Hummingbird 55 and my Aqua-Vu Micro makes it easier to find them. Would recommend both of these to any fisherman who wants to find fish quickly. These tools help cut down on the amount of holes you have to drill. With that being said you still have to drill holes where the crappies are as they are always on the move. For example, when I was fishing the other day the water was stained so by putting the Aqua-Vu Micro to see what type of fish I was sitting on was very helpful.
When your fishing clear water lakes the key is fishing in low light. That would include early morning and late afternoon to early evening. These fish will move in shallow and can be caught and released without any harm being done. You can fish these fish deeper but the risk is too great that you won’t be able to release them. Please keep this in mind while fishing in deeper water.
My most favorite and more successful pattern of fishing is when there is a front coming in. These fish will rise in the water column and are very agressive. The other day day when I was fishing was a good example of this .There was a weather front begining and the sunfish showed up. I was fishing in 13-16 FOW in the weed and they were chasing the Lindy Ice Jig. Once the crappies started to show up I switched to the Lindy Frosty Spoon and they hammered it. These fish will go after larger jigs when they are in a agressive mood. And it is fun to watch when this happens. Always keep in mind that weather conditions will change and you have to change with it. It will help to put more fish on the ice.
It’s been one of those years where we have had very little snow cover. With this comes it’s positives and negitives. The biggest negitive is the noise factor when drilling holes. The fish don’t like it so find the fish and quickly drill several holes then stop. Wait a bit so the fish will calm down. This may sound funny, but it happens every year to me. Take advantage of the snow covered lakes with deeper water levels. With the low light the fish will be higher in the water column and this will allow you to drill more holes and move with the fish pattern.
Lastly, while working old or new lakes, the key is to move around. Find the pattern for that lake.Pay attention to the time of the season(early,mid or late ice) . Pay attention to the weather,the time of day, and water clarity. These patterns may change from year to year.I have a lake here in Alexandria that the crappies will be there from now to the end of February before moving into there ice-out pattern. This is information that I have collected in a journal that I have put together. A journal is a good tool to have so from year to year you can look back on pass patterns. By finding the fishing patterns on your favorite lake you’ll be able to stat ahead of everyone else who always fishes the same spot from year to year.
Hope that this information helps you become more successful on your favorite lake. As always, be safe and I’ll see you on the ice.