The new millennium ice age about to begin

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, cold, or discouraged. But 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 labour, 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.
Rather, keep it short and sweet and your youngster will be much more likely to get excited about the next trip.
It wasn’t that long ago I remember going fishing with my dad. 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 50 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, it easily can 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 colour 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 favourite 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 wet 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 actually can see fish appear on a graph. Sensitive sonars track your lure so you can put it right in the fish’s face.
I actually have 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 many modern ice fishermen 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 summertime. 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.
Walleye like to feed during stable weather so 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 also is critical. Use larger baits under stable weather conditions. For walleye and pike, don’t 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 also can become finicky after a weather change so again downsize your bait.
With revolutionary items coming all the time, I can see 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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