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The New Millennium Ice Age is about to Begin

By Bob Riege

Over the last 1,000 years ice fishing has changed very little.  But as
we near the next millennium we are on the edge of a virtual revolution
that will start the next Ice Age for the angler who prefers ice fishing.

The problem with ice fishing, in many cases, is that people let
themselves get bored, or cold, or discouraged.  That doesn't have to be
the case.  It's a matter of being willing to change and try something
new.

If I haven't had any action in 15 minutes, I move!  Drill a few more
holes.  It'll keep you warm.  If you can't handle the labor, bring a
young kid with you.  They love to fish and they have unlimited energy as
long as they're enthusiastic about the trip.  Remember kids have short
attention spans ( so do most adults) and if the fish aren't hitting or
the weather is too cold or windy it's no fun at all being on the ice.
Keep it short and sweet and your youngster will be much more likely to
get excited about the next trip.
It wasnít that long ago I remember going fishing with my dad and we had
a hand auger a few jigs, waxworms and the most important invention the
plastic five gallon pail.  We always walked to a specific location using
the triangular positions of the dead tree on the far shore lined up with
the white house and fifty paces from the last point we crossed.
Two of the most revolutionary devices for ice fishing are the hand held
GPS and the portable depthfinder.  Without these ice angling would still
be locked in the last 1,000 years.
Today, when a hot spot is located, the location can easily be
electronically saved as a waypoint on a hand held GPS, ensuring swift,
efficient guaranteed returns with just the press of the button.  If only
I had one these when I was a kid.  The frustrating times trying to find
that white house and the dead tree when in actuality the house was
painted a different color and the dead tree fell in the high wind last
summer.  GPS would have helped my dad and me locate those roving schools
of walleyes next to that favorite dropoff.
I have good luck locating fish holding structure through the ice using
my portable locator.  By making use of the zoom feature, I can identify
fish that are holding very tight to the structure being checked.  By
simply wetting the ice and placing the transducer on the wt spot, you
can examine the bottom make-up before drilling your holes.  This saves
you both time and work.
The key to ice fishing as it is in any fishing is location.  For walleye
and other gamefish, try long tapering points; inside channel turns; rock
humps, neck downs, and structure near spring spawning areas.  Use the
sonar to spot fish. Try submerged brush piles and blowdowns for crappie
and bluegill.  Watch the screen or flasher.  You can actually see fish
appear on a graph.  Sensitive sonars track your lure so you can put it
right in the fishís face.  I have actually seen a day when a mark
appeared on the sonar screen while reeling in a lure.  A pause, and the
mark moved closer to the bait.  A twitch of the wrist brought a powerful
strike.  A heart-racing fight put a nice eight pound walleye on the
ice.  The same situation can be used for panfish.
The warmest innovation that has helped the ice angler stay on the ice
longer, which enables them to catch more fish is the portable ice
shanty.  A good, lightweight, and portable ice shanty can provide a lot
of added comfort.  A propane lantern is enough to warm the interior.
These structures come with names such as the Clam, and the Fish Trap.
The important thing is that they allow you to take others out on the ice
and yet be mobile.  One thing that many modern ice fisherman want to do
is to move from location to location.  Sure, the carpeted ice shack with
the bunkbeds is nice, but not as portable as the modern ice angler
needs.
Weather is just as much a factor as it is in the summer time.  When a
storm is hitting the surface of the frozen lake the fish will turn off
and usually will go through a "cold front" condition after the storm
stops.  The walleye likes to feed during stable weather and if you are
planning that early ice-time walleye trip check the weather before and
during your stay.  Sometimes the approach of a winter storm will trigger
a feeding frenzy because of the advance of low light conditions.
Regardless of the type of lake you fish, your choice in baits is also
critical.  Use larger baits under stable weather conditions.  For
walleye and pike, donítí hesitate to use the largest shiners you can
get.  If you are jigging, also use larger spoons.  After a front,
downsize your minnow.  Many nice walleye have been taken on small
crappie minnows under adverse conditions.  Panfish can become finicky
after a weather change, so, again, down size your bait.
With revolutionary items coming all the time I can see that the ice
angler of today is going to be well equipped to handle the new Ice Age
that is about to begin in the New Millennium.  Hope to see you on the
ice real soon



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