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Living on the edge

Work the edges of weed beds for early ice panfish

December 3, 2010
By Matt Heinrichs - Outdoor Columnist

I?see it all the time on the Iowa Great Lakes.

Some guy pulls up with a bucket, drills a hole, drops a line and stays in that same spot all day.

Sometimes they catch fish, most of the time they get skunked.

Article Photos

Pay close attention to all levels of the water column as species like crappie prefer to roam the tops of weeds while others such as perch perfer to roam the bottom.
EDN?photo by Matt Heinrichs

That's all well and good if your goal is to watch snot freeze to your whiskers.

When I hit the early season ice, I'm on a search and destroy mission. My target: the weedline.

As soon as the lakes cap with ice, fish congregate on weedbeds for numerous reasons.

Most importantly, there is a higher concentration of available oxygen and fish know this.

As winter moves forward, oxygen levels below the surface decrease dramatically.

Fish hit weedbeds early to expand their oxygen intake for as long as possible, until the weeds eventually die off and the fish move into deeper mid-winter locales.

When searching out weedbeds, it's not enough just to find them. You should concentrate on three distinctly different areas; the shallow edge, the deep edge and various pockets in between.

This is where electronics, sharp auger blades and a mobile approach play a key role.

Find several different promising locations in all three zones and move to find active fish.

I will typically give a spot five minutes. If it doesn't produce a fish, I move to the next and so on.

But don't be afraid to return to that spot as you move around the weeds. Fish tend to cruise these areas in search of food and you never know when one will be in the neighborhood.

Next time you're on the ice, try to find the three different edges. Hopefully it will help you put more fish in the bucket!



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