The leaves have turned, the first frost has passed, and ice begins to form on your favorite lake. You are prepared for this moment. You have spent countless hours prepping, organizing and re-organizing your gear. You took the time to get your auger running properly. The battery is charged on your sonar unit. Your hooks are sharp. This is first ice as we know it.
Our ProStaff, ice anglers you have come to know through television, media, and sport shows look forward to this day every year. We caught up with Cal Svihel, Paul Delaney, Dave Koonce and James Holst (all of who you have seen on the popular television show “In-Depth Outdoors”) and asked them to share some personal insight on this favorite time of year.
Calvin Svihel, better known for his tagline “What a specimen!” when catching big fish advised us that “From October 1st until ice up while I am Fall fishing I am constantly scanning area lakes for first ice locations. Where I catch fish in the fall most likely will be where I will catch the same species first ice. Whether its deep break lines for walleyes, green weeds for sunfish, or deep suspended basin crappies. Paying attention to your electronics and “pre-fishing” during the fall period bite yields great success.” If you enjoy targeting Walleye’s, then you may want to take this advice from Calvin, “My favorite first ice species is Walleye! The reason is these fish are still relating to steep break lines where they just finished gorging themselves on young of the year bait fish (perch, sunfish, and crappies). These steep breaklines are often found closest to shore leading to the first areas of the lake to freeze over. Typical low light walleye feeding times are best, whether that is the morning or evening bite for your favorite walleye lake. Simple presentation as well. VMC rattle spoon in perch color tipped with a minnow head and a set line with a nice healthy minnow is a deadly 1-2 combo for these active first ice walleyes. This is also a perfect time to take the Otter Hideout XT shelter with as its very compact and light when traveling on thinner than mid-season ice.”
Dave Koonce, a Mississippi River Back Waters champion, suggests “My first ice target are always PanFish on the Mississippi River. On the river, the term “First Ice” is drastically different than a body of water that doesn’t have current. Once the smaller lakes start to form ice, I typically head out in my hovercraft to access the Back Water nooks and crannies that I enjoy so much. In the hovercraft, I can move from shore, to open water and onto safe ice that no one else has traveled due to the moving water in the river, and limited access to the areas I target. Once I find safe ice, I don’t sit still. I line up a series of holes, and move from one to the next with my custom five foot long rod, tipped with Tungsten Fly Jigs. Outside of Gills and Crappies, I will catch the occasional Large Mouth Bass which is always fun on ice!”
Tags: Calvin Svihel, Dave Koonce, James Holst