by Mike “LOBY” Lobenstein
Winter in Reedsburg, WI is past it’s half way point and along with that sometimes comes some tougher Wisconsin ice fishing conditions. All I can say when that happens is “move baby move” !
Due to some physical limitations I was able to go ice fishing for walleye only a few times, both outings being quite successful with a nice catch of walleyes and the other was just a good time on the ice with a good ol’ ice fishing buddy.
The number of “how to” ice fishing emails and calls I have gotten have all been been dealing with the same content for the most part. “Finding fish” and making them bite. It seems to be a problem not limited to just one lake in the Reedsburg area, as questions pertaining to Lake Redstone, Lake Wisconsin and Petenwell Lake all are similar in content.
Sometimes Wisconsin ice fishing is just tough but more often than not an area has been hammered on so frequently that the fish simply choose to eat much more wisely.
Several things can be done to fix this dilemma. The first is to get as basic and natural in your offering as possible and sometimes that will do the trick. That may be a simple micro shot line and small hook set ups such as a #12 or #14 and reduce the erratic jigging motions and fancy jig combos. Use a back to basics ice fishing approach.
Personally I like to move away from the pack. I apply the geographical similarities of the previous areas to a new area that looks and offers fish much the same and does so while not having been pressured day and night as the community ice fishing holes have been.
Just because no one has drilled any holes does not mean there aren’t fish there and, more than likely, there are fish present and hungry ones at that!
Using a topographical map of the lake available from area map shops and baits stores, one can quickly locate similar areas that have held fish for you in the past, and while it may take some hole drilling and a bit of work, there is nothing sweeter than finding an undisturbed group of crappies that are ready and willing to take your offering.
Simple troughs or ditches that are out on a main flat or an isolated area of humps and debris, can be gold mines for finding crappies and walleye. Once found, keeping this area to yourself or a few of your friends may be difficult, but do your best to enjoy it by yourself at least for a couple of ice fishing outings before you let the “cat out of the bag”, so to speak.
Weather Plays a Big Role in Ice Fishing Success
Weather also, plays a big role in fish activity, fronts moving in and out..barometric pressure on the fall or rise, all seem to add confusion when in fact it is really quite a simple concept.
A front that breaks a long period of very stable conditions usually will provide a feeding frenzy as it moves in. Stable conditions after a front passes through for a few days can be very good as long as it does not get “stagnant” or too stable……a little change is always a good thing. Cold fronts, especially with significantly sharp temperature drops, typically fronts with sky high barometric pressures and what we call “Blue Bird” skies, can be brutally tough periods to fish and one can almost bet that will be the case.
The period just before a storm is often good as the barometer falls slowly prior to the storms arrival and planning your ice fishing outing the day ahead of a front like this can reward you handsomely with some great walleye and crappie catches.
Final Ice Fishing Tip
Moving to a new ice fishing location is not always the answer. Often times, down sizing your presentation and being less aggressive may be all that is needed. If you are marking fish on your electronics than you know that those fish will get hungry and must eat at some point. Being there when they get hungry could be all it takes to break out of a ice fishing slump and some delicious Wisconsin fish fry events at the dinner table will soon follow.
Until next time, Good FiShIn’
Mike “LOBY” Lobenstein