An Awesome Start to Late Season Panfishing!

Location
Water Body
Species
Technique

One of the things that really keeps me excited about ice fishing over the course of an entire season is continually challenging myself to target multiple species and finding new lakes. For most folks I’m sure 3 months of winter may seem a bit much, but to us ice-heads it feels like such a “short” period of time to take advantage of all the amazing ice fishing opportunities we’ve been blessed with here in central MN!

Being primarily a walleye guy I decided to call in the big guns this past weekend as I was joined by Cal Svihel and Dan Pfeifer aka BigFife, two friends who I’ve met here on IDO, on a mission to introduce ourselves to some hungry panfish. Our gameplan was to target multiple small lakes and through a mixture of online research, intuition based on location/shoreline structure, and good old fashioned WAG (wild arse guessing) we found a few that looked like they had good potential.

Our first stop was a lake that I was familiar with and have had good success on in the past; however, on this day it turned out to be a bust as multiple locations and 30-40 holes drilled resulted in only a couple small perch.

Lake #2 was a tiny little lake that none of us, or probably anyone else for that matter, had ever set foot on in the winter. Judging by the marshy shoreline and mounds left by muskrats we could tell it wasn’t very deep, but with a small inlet flowing in we had high hopes that it would still hold fish. After reading the shoreline looking for the steepest banks dropping down towards the water we picked our area to start and began punching holes. It didn’t take long and we were able to locate depths into the low double digits, and quickly Dan had iced a nice gill followed by a bass. Cal and I were catching nothing so we started punching holes near Dan and figured out the the key to getting bit was to be in 6-8 FOW right along a drop off but go any deeper or shallower and you were pretty much out of luck. Once we had the location narrowed down we managed a couple dozen gills with a few at 8″ but it wasn’t quite what we were looking for so we made what turned out to be our best call of the day and decided to move on to the next lake on the list.

Lake #3 was another tiny lake with very little fishing pressure. We started in the middle and began punching holes in each direction towards shore. This time we found mid-lake depths to be in the low 20’s. After punching holes we grabbed our flashers and starting from the center each headed off towards shore in different direction. On probably my 5th or 6th hole my LX-7 finally showed a tiny line suspended halfway down and as I dropped my bait down it quickly turned into a bright red mark and nice crappie was quickly on the ice. Adding a few holes nearby Dan and Cal moved over and it was game on. Over the next few hours we iced dozens of 12-13″ crappies and Dan and I both ended up with personal best bluegills. What a great way to end an awesome day exploring new lakes with friends!

While the excitment of catching some dandy fish was nice, the best part of our trip was the rewarding feeling that comes with putting in the work looking for new water and having it pay off in a big way. Thanks Dan and Cal for great day on the ice!

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Will Roseberg

Having grown up in the small town of Malmo, Minn, fishing Minnesota’s famed Lake Mille Lacs, Will comes from a small group of anglers in-the-know on north-central Minnesota lakes. He developed his skills fishing the big lake and its surrounding Full Bio ›

14 Comments

  1. A couple more pics from the weekend. If you notice in Pic #2, going to old school flasher mode on the LX-7 was key for the shallow water gills

    1 – Big Gill for the day (10.5″)

    2 – Big gill from lake #2 (8″)

  2. It was a fun day indeed. If you look behind Fife I am fishing very hard as Will and Fife put on a display of catching fish and taking photos.

    This is what IDO speaks….meeting up with a couple of guys to attack several new lakes with hopes of finding the jackpot. Thanks for the invite Will and the good company Fife.

  3. How does the saying go? “The only thing better than having the best auger on the market is a buddy (buddies) with the best auger who insists on drilling all of the holes.”

    Thanks for taking me along on the adventure. Exploring new lakes is always fun, but when we stumbled upon great fishing it was icing on the cake. Actually I was ready to call the weekend a success on Friday when I landed a nice walleye in the permanent, then it got better when we stumbled upon those slab crappies, and it got even better when we found some giant gills.

  4. Great job guys! There is something about ” good old fashioned WAG “ that keeps us exploring! Scott and I found a few new perch spots on the Miss soley by WAG. Quite the adrenaline rush when it pays off!

  5. Quote:


    Did you catch any eelpout?


    We did catch two eelpout on Mille Lacs this year and they were both little guys so hopefully it’s an indication that they are on the rebound.

    If I had a bit more time to go exploring it would be interesting to try and figure out where the dogfish are wintering on one of those small lakes

  6. I’m throwing the flag! There’s no red eyed roughie in any of those lakes! Very cool, I’m sure I’ve driven by a few of those lakes on the sled or by truck, always ask myself “what’s in there?”

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