By David Obirek
One of the most appealing aspects I think most anglers like about ice fishing is the opportunity to explore areas not always accessible to some during the open water season. There are many people who only shore fish in the summer so when the winter hits, the excitement is almost unbearable. Four wheel drive trucks are one of the more popular modes of ice travel. However, it is also common to see snowmobiles, quads, side-by-side utility vehicles and even SnoBears ripping across the frozen bodies of water to access the far out reaches not normally accessible otherwise. The ability to travel across frazzled ice, over ridges and through snow drifts is what can set anglers apart during the winter season. Installing tracks on both trucks and sport utility vehicles while replacing conventional tires has also increased in its use. Not everyone though has the budget to have these luxuries and walking out on the ice by foot from your car might be your only option to ice fish. This might sound less exciting than the other option but it does not mean that your chances of catching fish have to be any less. I enjoy being mobile when I fish and this includes on foot in the winter. Whether I fish alone or in a group, I like to drill several holes scattered around an area. Sometimes the holes are only a few feet apart or that can be up to 50-100 feet apart. This allows me to potentially cover different depths and underwater structures. If you have electronics, you can check your depths in each hole and get an idea of the contour based on what your sonar tells you. If you don’t have electronics, just use your lure by dropping it to the bottom and making a mental note of the approximate depth based on how much line you’ve let out. Making these short distance moves might not seem significant on top of the ice, but it's underneath the ice is what you should be concerned with. There can be significant changes in water depth in a short move. You may also have positioned yourself in a transition area from shallow to deeper water or vice versa or on a drop-off that is holding fish. Once you have zoned in on an area where the fish are, you can now tighten your grouping. Your time is better spent fishing high probability areas than sitting stagnant in one spot all day hoping the fish will come to you. This strategy of staying mobile can be done alone or in a group. A little bit of communication and teamwork can be the difference maker in your ice fishing experience. Next time you are out give this technique a try in hopes of increasing your fish catching opportunities.
David Obirek is a freelance fishing Columnist and writer of “The Fishing Journal” which is featured monthly in the Selkirk Journal Newspaper. Based out of Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada, David is also a competitive walleye angler and a member of the Central Walleye Trail (CWT). You can follow David on twitter(@walleye_dave), Facebook(@thefishingjournalselkirk) and Instagram(@thefishingjournal