Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

Dec. 25, 2000

Spend time to get fish

Like many other endeavors, to be successful, ice fishing requires time and patience.

Those who are patient and spend more hours at it, catch more fish.

Also, several studies on angling have indicated that a lower percentage of anglers are catching a higher percentage of fish.

Something like this: of all the fish caught in a particular season, 60 percent are being caught by only 10 percent of all the anglers fishing.

If that is the case, it doesn't say much in regard to angling success for a majority of anglers.

If those numbers are accurate, who really knows? However, we can be fairly certain that there is a small but growing group of very well-practiced and educated anglers out there who are catching fish.

These anglers spend hours at it. They have and know how to use all the latest technology and more often than not, they have the scoop on where the fish are biting. They are the royalty of ice angling.

The rest of us are, let's say, the peasants. We like and expect to catch fish. But we don't have the know-how or the time and we only seem to get fish through the ice when the bite is really on or a lake is super hot.

More often than not, we only know where the fish WERE biting and not where they ARE biting.

Lastly, we often manage to catch just enough to keep us motivated and willing to deal with the cold, drill another hole, and flip another pail.

With this fishing season now well underway and the ice in good shape, the above scenario seems to be very evident.

Anglers and area bait shops are reporting that fish seem to be biting everywhere, especially northern pike. Nothing fast, but just enough to keep most anglers interested.

Other reports, from those who are in the know and have put in their hours on the ice, say the fish are biting like crazy on several area lakes.

These anglers have told accounts of walleyes at 2 a.m., big northerns at sunrise, limits of crappies at midnight, and modest sunfish action at mid-day. Their reports say the only thing hampering the action has been the extremely cold weather.

Hot spot or not, it seems that if you're an angler willing to put in some time and be mobile, you're going to get fish.

Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake reported: The action has picked up on Howard. Northerns are hitting sucker minnows, a few nice walleye are coming off, and the panfish action has picked up. The crappie bite is getting better and small sunfish are biting on the north end.

Joe's also noted that Collinwood has been producing some modest walleye action.

Lil' Angies Bait and Tackle at the Treasure Hunt near Lester Prairie reported: The cold weather has slowed activity a bit, but the fish seem to be biting everywhere. Otter Lake near Hutchinson was giving up crappies. Lake Ann has been producing a few crappies and the walleye action on Howard has been good in deep water.

Moving on, with a little warm-up, look for activity on our area lakes to really pick up between Christmas and New Year's, and be prepared for difficult travel on the lakes. There is just enough snow to make getting around on the ice tough at times.

The snow cover may also hamper the creation of ice. With that in mind, if you're driving out on the ice, stay in the well-traveled areas and remember that no ice is ever completely safe.

Outdoor notes

­ Be aware of lakes in our area, like Swan and Winsted, that have aeration systems on the go. Note their location on the lake and abide by safety and thin ice signs.

­ Become a member of a conservation organization in 2001.

­ For better ice fishing success, use light line and tackle, and be mobile.

­ With the hunting seasons over for another year, make sure your firearms and ammunition are properly stored and locked in separate locations.

­ If you have a fishhouse on the the ice, make sure your heating system is in good working order and the house is properly ventilated.

­ Winter officially began Thursday. The days are now starting to get a little longer.

­ If you are feeding wildlife this winter, remember that you are making a winter-long commitment.

­ Enjoy the season and have a very Merry Christmas.

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