by Ron Anlauf
There is no doubt we were due but the heavy snow has put a damper on the late season panfish action.
It hasn’t hurt the bite, just made getting around a lot tougher. With a nice warm up it will all settle or melt off and make getting to the hot spots a lot easier.
For the most part the ice should still be plenty good; it takes a lot of warm weather including nights that stay above freezing before we lose any appreciable amount of ice.
The northern lakes including the Grand Rapids area should have safe ice to get out on for quite some time.
It just so happens that the north central part of the state is loaded with gorgeous lakes including some that are full of slab sided crappies and eye popping bluegills.
The good ones are not much of a secret though and do see their share of pressure but it is limited, and least when it comparison to those closer to the metro area.
You can get on a body of water and have it to yourself (especially if you can go during the week) and can make for a real quality experience. Of course if you’re on your own you’ll have to find your own fish and is part of the challenge.
Some of the late season hotspots includes sharp breaks near shallower flats and can range from deep to shallow depending on how late in the season it is.
For the most part; the later we get the shallower you can expect to find fish.
A GPS and a good map like the Humminbird 385ci can make finding breaks and flats a whole lot easier and keep your reconnaissance time to a minimum.
Fortunately for us LakeMaster has spent a lot of time surveying the north central lakes including some of the smaller ones and they are incredibly accurate. With a LakeMaster chip and the 385ci you can know where you are before ever drilling a hole and get to a spot without any second guessing.
Even though the action can really heat up late in the season teeny tiny lures like Northland Tackle’s No. 12 Gill-Getter tipped with one of the new Impulse plastic bodies and maybe a maggot is the way to go. It’s all you need and the combination is completely effective on both crappies and bluegills. The thing is when you know what you’re using works you can concentrate on finding the biters and is then a matter of keeping on the move until you start getting your pole bent.
See you on the ice.
Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.