Ice fishing season is drawing near, be careful on the ice

By Bill Bartusek

The ice fishing season is just about here. With cooler water temperatures this fall, I certainly expected a lot of ice by now. However, just like the past few years, weather has been a factor. It just hasn’t been cold enough to make a lot of ice. Instead it gets just cold enough to make some ice at night and then warms up during the day and starts all over again.

Years back, we were on the ice Thanksgiving weekend, but not lately. Of course anglers are eager to get out for the first ice bite. They have been sneaking out on area lakes the past week. There’s not much ice and most places are not accessible. However, here and there on shallower lakes certain areas had enough ice to fish. I certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to go anywhere. I have been invited out but have declined to go. The action has been excellent, especially for panfish. Both my sons, Bill and Joseph, have fished with good success.

They have also found many area lakes have ice conditions too poor to get out. I’m not sure what next week will bring. Every forecast I listen to seems to change. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Usually my adventures on early ice are for northern pike. I get my tip ups out and set up in shallow bays with some decent weed growth. The live minnows are set 1 1/2 to 3 feet off the bottom. Pikes’ eyes are set on top of their heads so they tend to look up. that’s why the baits are set high.

Pike do however scavenge at times and feed off the bottom. I’ve cleaned pike with frogs in their stomach that they picked up on the bottom. Also don’t be afraid to use dead bait. I have had some excellent action using dead minnows. Pike are survivors and will eat whatever comes along to get a meal.

Action should be fast if you’re in the right area. If action is slow, don’t be afraid to move!

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