The ice is about to really set on some major lakes and walleye veterans will be hitting their spots like rabid raccoons. So how do these guys find their prime winter spots. Well, most likely there was some trial and error involved, and some stories from this guy and that, and a little luck here at this spot, or that one.You get the idea, hot spots comes from little pieces of information that have been gathered over years of experience to give you some old standby spots.
However, with ice fishing there are signs of angler presence that don’t exist in open water months. And one of the biggest signs is holes . Yes, it may be obvious, but some people don’t do enough ice fishing hole analysis when ice fishing. On bigger lakes, hole analysis may be very hard to do, because of the enormous amount of water that one must cover. On small lakes though you can see ice fishing hole patterns with a bit of walking or snowmobiling. I don’t ever recommend encroaching on people’s holes while they are there , and using old holes that people have drilled may be a bit of a no no for some anglers. (If you don’t have an auger though , and are on larger lakes there is nothing wrong with using some older holes that are abandoned to get to some water with just a small axe, but don’t ever intrude on ice fishing holes blatantly).
What I am recommending is more of analyzing where these fisherman are locating these holes . Above the surface of the water there is little to differentiate one piece of ice from another. But the holes tell a good story about the fishing in the area.
One of the characteristics of the holes to analyze is their distance from the shore. Often times anglers will have found with electronics, or from experience, the point at which the bottom drops off into deeper water where walleye will hold.
This drop off may last for miles or only a few hundred feet. But, the point is, that you now have more information than you did by just blindly drilling holes all over the frozen tundra. When you search around these holes also look for signs of fish being caught. Like fish scales and blood from fish that are thrown on the ice to be saved to eat. This is obviously prime information.
Now if you want to come back to theses spots throughout the winter and it snows a good deal in your neck of winter paradise you need to mark these spots somehow. And you want to mark them so its not that obvious.If you have a gps unit this isn’t that hard to do, but if you don’t, and you are close to the shore, prop up some sticks in an odd way that you will be able to notice the next time you walk past them. If the holes are close by the shore count off your steps and write down how many steps it took you to get there.
It may sound a bit outdated , but it has a certain walleye hunting barbarian aspect to it , as opposed to saying , oh yeah, my hole is at N 75 blah blah blah, W 64 blah blah blah, you can say my hole is 75 paces off that giant oak out there.
If you don’t have electronics to key in on underwater structure than use ice fishing hole analysis this winter to gather information on that will give you some success. Or you could just continue to walk 50 yards from the parking lot and use your auger more than you fish. Whatever floats your boat, both are fun, haha.