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Monday, November 17, 2014

The Livewell Q&A: First Ice Edition

I am getting a lot of good feedback on the Livewell Blog (plenty of bad also, but that is mostly from my wife), so if it works, why not keep it rolling. Do you have a fishing-related question you would like answered? Ridiculous or not, send it to me via Twitter: @dropshotbob with the #livewellblog hashtag, or for questions that cannot be contained by 140 characters, by email at niftybob20@gmail.com. I will try to do my best to answer them to the best of my abilities, hopefully you find some information that you can use on the water, as well as a little humor. Also, looking to add a fish of the week photo, so feel free to send me a funny or good fish photos and I will add one or more to the next edition.


I'm looking at getting a new auger. 4-stroke or new lithium laser? Love the idea of the electric, but...

I agree with the hesitancy you show behind electric augers. While there have been some great strides made in the world of lithium ion batteries that make electrics charge faster and drill more holes, at the end of the day, you still need to bring the batteries inside, let them warm up, and then charge them before you can use the auger again. Meanwhile, the 4-stroke auger I have been using for the past several years can sit in the back of my pickup all winter, only needing the occasional top-off at the gas station. Just topped off the tank for the first time this season, cost me a whole 58 cents for non-oxy premium.

I have used plenty of electric augers, and didn't mind using them, but I am the type of guy who can barely remember to charge his flasher batteries in between trips. I have several of them sitting in my “fishing room” just in case. Not sure if I can rationalize keeping one or more spare lithium-ion auger batteries sitting around, especially when they can run upwards of $175 each.

During spring thaw, is it worth jumping ice heaves with your 4-wheeler in order to get to your "tullibee hot spot?"

Absolutely! But first, you need to paint your wheeler so that it looks like the General Lee!!

In all seriousness though, ice heaves can be very dangerous even on foot. If you are on a large enough lake that ice heaves occur often, it is best to stick to the roads that the resorts have laid out. These people spend almost every day dealing with the shifting ice and no one knows it better than them. A road access pass is cheap, hiring a crew to retrieve your wheeler or truck out from under the ice, is not.

I keep a log of all places I've fished. How soon should I go back to a lake that has been 'fished out'? What info should I keep in my log book?

How soon to return to a lake that has been hit hard by fishing pressure is almost entirely dependent on the fertility of the lake. Lakes that have the forage available to grow fish quickly, will recover many times faster than lakes that are relatively infertile. I wrote aboot this a few years ago in two separate articles than can be read here:
History Lessons

and here:
Pine to Prairie Panfish

As far as what records to keep in your own log book, I like to keep it basic. Generally, I will have basic weather info, such as temp, cloud cover, ice and snow thickness (yes, they do matter), and what the weather has been doing. If the weather has been fairly consistent, and there is a big change coming, this can cause a great fish bite. Conversely, after a big change, fishing can tend to be poor for a few days. However, I also believe that you can never have too much information at your fingertips. If you believe you catch more fish while sipping some fancy smoked porter that can only be purchased every third year due to shipping delays from the Himalayan monks that produce it, well then you damn well better put that information in your log book. After all, confidence is 75% of the battle, if you can stay confident out on the ice, you will increase your catch rate.


If your buddy gets all shitfaced while ice fishing, is it ok to give him his own Sorrel boot to puke in on the ride home?

Whose truck are you riding in? Wouldn't it be a lot funnier to let him puke all over the floor of his own truck and leave him wondering why it smells like brats and snowshoe grog the next day? I mean this is payback at its finest. He finally took you out to one of his secret hot spots, forgot to tell you aboot the “bring your own beer” rule, reluctantly gave you one or two Milwaukee's Best, then got so smashed while muttering over and over, “you should have been here least week” that you had to drive him home. No, let him puke on the floor if it his vehicle. Double points if it is his wife or girlfriend's.

Your truck? Hell no, the roads are icy in the winter, and having to dig his Sorel out of the back seat while driving 55 down a two-lane road that is only visible due to the snow mounds on either side is just plain crazy. And, why did he take his boots off anyway? Pull over, kick him into the snowbank to do his retching. Or, if you really want to be mean, hand him his bucket with the two 9” crappies that he was sure were solid one pounders.

You are in charge at this point, and no matter the outcome, you get to hold this over his head the next time he has a “honey hole” and doesn't want to share it.


What temps make how much ice? How does snow cover affect ice making?

This is an interesting question that comes up every year, generally around the time the northern lakes are getting a skim coat on them and every one else is left wondering when it will be their turn. It will also come up around a month after said date, when people start wondering when they can start driving out onto the lakes. There are many charts available on the googles that will show you how much ice is built over a 24hr period if the temperature is such and such. They always deal in averages, which can cause you some great headache if you don't know basic math or have had too much snowshoe grog to drink. Obviously, snow is an insulator, but if it is cold enough, more ice will form. The things you really need to worry aboot are springs, currents, and ice heaves (unless your 4-wheeler is painted like the General Lee, then ICE HEAVES BE DAMNED, LETS ROLL! WHOO!!)

This is the chart I generally refer to:

However, no chart will adequately provide the information like someone who has already been out on the lake. This is why baitshops are an invaluable tool, the guys that run them talk to people every day that were out on the ice. Granted fishermen are known liars, but the people at the shops are able to hone their BS skills over the years to give someone who drops in or gives them a phone call good info. Bait shops tend to do better when fisherman catch more fish. So, they have no problem sending you to where the good bite/fishable ice is. Weird, isn't it? Unless you are a dickhead. If you are a dickhead, and I have seen this many times in baitshops, they are more likely to send you over to some kids swimming pool telling you grand stories aboot how everyone is limiting out on 30” walleyes.

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