Ice fishing Facts
Are those early ice fishing panfish eluding you? Have you ever wondered why crappies and sunfish, during early season ice fishing, aren’t in the same locations as they were the previous year? Maybe you had an experience where you were on an awesome bite one day and the next everything was gone.
Here are some clues and a number of facts that may help you. Factor them into your ice fishing equation, and maybe these pieces of the puzzle will make your ice fishing season more productive and enjoyable.
- When ice fishing, crappies, sunfish and blue gills will primarily feed on zooplankton. Crappies have large baskets for mouths with finely evolved gill rakers to trap the plankton. That is why you often catch them in the evening, because they just have to swim and strain. Bluegills have excellent eyesight for daytime use and, along with their smaller mouths, that is why you rarely catch sunfish after dark.
- Zooplankton generally rise to the surface during low light levels to feed on light-loving phytoplankton, and then drop back to the bottom during brighter periods. This is important to understand, because there are a number of things that affect light levels. Dusk and dawn are generally an important time for massive zooplankton movement because of their instinctive behaviours. They are generally slow moving, so your window of opportunity can be longer, depending on the types of zooplankton moving below your water column.
- Sharper breaks into deeper water will provide low light faster as the sun passes by. If you’ve ever been traveling between skyscrapers you’ve likely seen this effect. Panfish instinctively react to this, and utilize sharp breaks during ice fishing season because of the extended feeding opportunities, with plankton rising earlier in those spots. Panfish expend less effort moving out from the break as the dark shadow slowly falls further away from the sharper breaks. Utilize this knowledge and drill holes in the direction the shadow will fall, so you can move out as the panfish move further away from the sharp break.
- Temperature varies from year to year. If everything else is the same, the longer it stays warm the more crappies and blue gills will stay shallow around green weeds. If the ice comes later, the panfish will generally be shallower later. But remember daylight gets shorter so there is less energy feeding the lake and weeds each passing day until December 21st in the northland.