It’s been a tough winter but warmer temps have finally arrived which really knocked down the snow pack that had hampered mobility and kept a lot of anglers off the ice. There are those that believe the integrity of the ice has been damaged as well but it’s simply not so.
Actually, we have plenty of good ice and probably will for some time so there is still a chance to get in on some late season panfish action, if you have a notion.
With the warmer daytime temps; the first thing to go is the snow while the ice remains good and solid.
It takes a while for the ice to degrade to the point where it’s no longer safe to be on, especially when nighttime temperatures fall back into the freezing range.
You can run into bad shoreline ice trying to access a lake and typically is where it’s exposed to the afternoon sun as well as a lot of traffic that might be beating it down.
A shaded access point might allow you to keep on getting on weeks after the sundrenched spot has opened up.
That’s where it all ends for me and I’m not willing to push it to limit like some of the diehards that will use a makeshift bridge to get back on the ice.
My brother and a few buddies set out to fish a local lake a few years ago and ran into bad shoreline ice but found a plank from shore to the ice that somebody else had placed. It was all fine and dandy until they returned and found that the plank had been pulled back up on shore and they had to walk forever to a find a spot to get off.
It just isn’t worth the risk as far as I’m concerned and safety has to be first and foremost.
By late ice, shallow water patterns set up and include fishing stacking up near shallow flats and bays.
A shallow bay off a bigger lake with lots of top of the line predators like northern pike can be a real hot spot probably because it’s the safest place to be.
A friend of mine was just on one such bay and did real good in nine feet of water even though three feet of it was solid ice.
The fish were there and will be until ice out.
Another good late ice pattern includes fishing deeper rooted reeds (the official name is hard stemmed bulrush) which can produce crappies, sunnies, and jumbo perch and are found on shallow sandy flats.
Look for crappies to move in early in the morning and late in the day just before dark and perch and sunnies to be there all day long.
See you on the ice.
Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.