This week’s early ice fishing in Grand Rapids and ice safety blog is presented by: Tom Neustrom, professional angler, and professional fishing industry representative.
Every year we always stress ice safety. Always remember that there is no ice that is truly safe. There is a guide 4 inches walking, 6-8 inches four-wheelers, 11-15 inches for ATV, and small pickups. These are good guides for travel on ice.
For the ice anglers that went out in the fall for checking options for fish. Early ice can be a good time to catch fish. Panfish most often will stay in the locations where you find them in the fall (open water), and first ice. Specifically, when we talk about walleyes, they usually at first ice will be moving around primarily not in the fall locations. They are very food-oriented and will be constantly chasing baitfish. Most often they will be set up on the edges of the structure and strategically move upon those structures using those pathways for several weeks. To have a better understanding of this, walleyes have similar routes that they will take whether early or late in the day. It is a good assumption that if you want to try to catch walleyes in the day during the winter, look for lakes with snow cover and offshore structures. Again, this shows you that walleyes like low light options, your opportunities are better late in the day when it is not specifically light out.
Darkhouse spearing is another popular ice fishing sport that is especially good early in the season. Northern pike is not affected by cold weather as other species of fish are. Even though walleyes are cold-water species northern pike are truly very active in the winter. Most Darkhouse spearfishermen will use a large sucker minnow or a decoy to call the northern in. It is a great sport, and many people still enjoy sitting over the top of a large hole watching a fish come into the target area. As we get into the later part of the season, Darkhouse season is not as good as early in the beginning of the year. Northern pike is still a good species to pursue even after the first part of the season. Most anglers that pursue northern pike later in the season will use a function called a tip-up. You can put out two per angler, and pandemonium will occur when fish bite. It is a fun sport to try in the winter. Make sure you contact local bait shops in the Grand Rapids area: Thousand Lakes Sporting Goods, River Rat Bait, Fred’s Bait & Tackle, L&M Fleet Supply, and Winnie Trading Post are good sources of information for not only ice conditions but where several species of fish maybe biting.