Ice fishing in the metro area is running full tilt though
walleye and panfish action has been sporadic. Access to isolated,
mid-lake areas has been good via snowmobiles and four-wheelers.
I like lots of early snow because it discourages the vehicle
drivers from meandering and leaves the longer treks to midlake
areas to the serious hikers and hardcore types. Deep snow makes an
incredible difference in the metro area because of the popularity
of the ice fishing and the sheer number of anglers converging on
Recreational snowmobiling has become a major part of the
outdoors scene as well with the lakes and trails exhibiting ideal
conditions, which brings out the “fair weather” sledders. As they
converge on the lakes, many of my metro spots have become sterile,
because snowmobilers have made new thoroughfares.
On any given evening, snowmobilers “rule the lakes” when the
The snowmobiling factor also plays heavy in the late season
bowhunting. They tend to move deer around as the burgeoning trails
now run through sloughs and along side wooded cover. That relocates
deer into previous spots that were void of them until recently. As
an avid snowmobiler, it is a bittersweet dilemma.
The term “slab crappies” is one of the most overused terms in
the field of fishing. Big crappies are rare, and when I find a lake
with big crappies, I “dummy up!” People often talk about the
techniques associated with slab crappies. Actually finding a lake
with big crappies is 90 percent of the game and catching them is
rather routine once you are on them.
The metro area gives up a few accidental big crappies here and
there, but for consistency, the best water is at least 100 miles
from the metro areas. They are good lakes because they are a long
way from a major metropolitan area!
I have found that the best time for keying on big crappies is
just after dark until mid evening. These bigger fish always seem to
have one thing in common, no matter where you find them. They get
very active just when the walleye bite wanes an hour or so after
Keep in mind that active crappies will move large distances up
and down versus walleyes that move horizontally. Active crappies
love to move in vertical motions, and you often catch them on the
bottom to as much as 20 feet up off the bottom.
Watching your electronics and relocating your baits according to
what the electronics tell you puts more crappies in the pail. Good
crappie anglers constantly are working their slipbobbers when
they’re over hot fish. They adjusting their knots minute by minute.
That’s the mark of a good panfish angler.