Know Your Panfish: Panfish such as bluegills and crappies (pronounced crop-pees) often provide consistent winter action when others won’t. Still, this doesn’t mean they’re pushovers. Use thin 2-pound test lines, small hooks, and tiny baits (bits of worm or small shiners) to fool this tasty quarry.
Know Your Limits: Legal keeper limits vary between frozen waters in some cases. Only haul home what you can eat as well. A half-dozen panfish per person is a good number to go by for weekend fish fries. One five-pound lake trout will feed several people. Release the rest through the same hole from which you caught them, and do it promptly.
Know Your Match-ups: Certain ice-fishing species hang in the same habitat as others. Crappies, bluegills, and even chain pickerel hold in the shallows, often in spots that revealed weedy cover in open-water season. Northern pike and walleyes share space. Largemouth bass can be found on lake drop-offs where the depth shifts suddenly, and smallmouths hold there too.
Know Weather Patterns: Weather (and daylight, or lack of) can influence fish feeding binges. A mild day above freezing temperatures with solid ice can put fish on the bite, while a lingering deep freeze can put them off. Heavy snowcover piled up on the ice overhead sometimes sees winter fish feed during brighter daylight hours. Alternately, clear ice on sunny days might reveal low-light biting tendencies.
Know When To Go: You’ve got your Yamaha wheels parked nearby, so if fish just aren’t biting through the ice that day, haul your gear to the shoreline, load it up, and try another spot. This ride-and-fish technique will sometimes put you into trout and panfish that do want to play. If not, four-wheeling around outdoors on a weekend day is still lots of fun.