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Discussion Starter #1
Ok so myself and two friends of mine love fishing but when it comes to ice fishing we are not doing good. We have a clam xl2000 shanty and plenty of gear we just cannot seem to get into the fish at all. We need some serious help. We are planning on going fishing next weekend and we are undecided on where. we need some pointers, tips, hints, anything to figure out what we need to do and where to go. We are looking for pretty much any fish but would like to take home some panfish. Starting to get severely discouraged with getting skunked. Would really appreciate any input you could give me please. Thank you
 

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first, remember all lakes have fish. large lakes have more fish, but more place to hide, so i like smaller lakes. find a couple & learn where they are in the winter. I like 9-18 foot of water. use light line (2lb,3 max) with small jig. make should you have a sensitive bobber,float or spring type,weight it if you need to (though I'm not big on sinkers) you should be able to tell if the jig is sitting on bottom or not & to detect the slightest bite. A good bite will only move the bobber about an 1/8" alot of time. Imo, gills are near the bottom 85% of the times, so fish between 6" & 3 ft off bottom.
so change depth every couple of minutes & work that water column.
(that said, last yr the fish were high the whole second half of the yr)
next thing is move. sometimes moving 8' makes alot of diff. work the area you fish in the summer, but if you don't have a bite in 10 minutes,move
 

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Like Jimbo said. All lakes have fish but big water is harder to fish unless you know it upside and down. Get a lake map or navionics chip or something to know exactly where you are on the body of water. You should be looking for water that is close to deeper water or inside and outside turns or simply where the bottom changes from sand to weeds, or maybe a rock pile or some brush but this all depends on what you are after too. Gills like to hide in weeds and/or hug the bottom for the most part. Crappies like deeper water usually and some wood if available to them. Gills usually only want small stuff on light line (grubs, mousies) but crappie will eat anything. Pike are going to want minnows either jigged or on a tip up and the same is true for walleye. Perch are most exclusively found near or right on bottom and they like mud and silty bottoms. If you haven't already, get yourself a flasher too because if you ever fish with one you will never fish again without it. I cannot tell you how many extra fish I've caught the past 3 years since I got back into the sport and got one myself. If anything, it lets you be ready when fish are in the area because you usually see them before you get a bite. Many times I've lost a fish on the way up but see it is still there but not on bottom where it was originally hooked so I drop back down precisely to its depth and they hit again and I get them. With no electronics I'd assume the fish was gone and drop my line back down below the fish and probably not get it. And like was said, don't sit in one spot too long. If you know the area good and are near a drop off, drill some holes before the drop off in the shallower water and then out along the drop off to the deepest water. Then when you see what depth the fish are hanging at drill holes out along in the opposite direction at that depth. I've found crappie 2-4' below the ice in nearly 20' of water before and I would have never fished that without knowing they were there because of my flasher. Use multiple rods too when ever you can and put different offerings down until you see what they want. I usually use a horizontal and vertical jig with a slip bobber and as mentioned you want that bobber to go down as easy as possible for the light bites, sometimes the bobber will just lay on its side so you know something picked it up. After I get a few fish on one size or type of lure or color I switch all my rods to that until it slows down and then I change it up again. Last time I fished I tied a perch rig of sorts with a bare hook and minnow about 4' up off bottom in 9' of water and a small jig near the bottom. I started catching fish up off bottom on just the hook and minnow so I started fishing higher in the water column even with a lot of marks down near bottom but the bite didn't last long. I think the marks on bottom were gills because my buddy caught one on a waxie but I was after crappie only because the gills there are usually small and they rarely hit minnows. Anyways, good luck.
 

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Do business with a decent bait shop.
There are ways to reduce bait costs but that is far removed from your request.
Where are they bitin and how they catchin em? a shop should get you started.
Each fishing site is unique. One place can be first hour of light, one midday and another only the last half hour of the day. Worse that can all be on the same body of water and change with the progressing changes under the ice. Weeds for example, and oxygen..
While I am not high tech , electronics are a game changer in ice fishing.
Combined with the ability to cut holes at will, electronics tell you if fish are there and how they are responding. That is huge in ice fishing. Start above active fish and take those that rise to your offerings. If they get sulking; move on.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all for your help. Any suggestions for lakes to go to, I mostly fish rivers in summer and havent had much luck on lakes in the past other than higgins lake. I would like to try budd lake or pratt possibly this next weekend but if there is somewhere better to try I will give pretty much any place a chance. Thank you again I will definitely use the info I have been given.
 

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I echo what others have said... and emphasize the significance of a flasher or graph for ice fishing. With a graph l know if there are fish in a location and if so, at what depth... They really made a huge difference once I started using one.

I fish a few small lakes and as others have said... moving 10 to 20 feet can make all the difference between numbers and size of panfish I catch.
 
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