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#16891 - 01/24/10 09:28 PM Midwinter Flats Fishing - Bob Bohland
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN

Midwinter Flats Fishing
By: Bob Bohland

This ice fishing season has been anything but normal with the amount of early snowfall much of the ice belt received. Due to this heavy coating of snow, the timeframe for the midwinter bite has been pushed up by several weeks. While most anglers generally consider midwinter to be a bad time to be out on the ice, it can pay huge dividends for those anglers who know how to follow the fish as opposed to sitting on community holes vying for inactive fish. Here are some tips to avoid those “midwinter doldrums”

Many anglers head out to deep basin areas almost as soon as the early ice bite begins to taper off. Often this results in large shanty towns and anglers competing for a limited number of small to medium sized fish. With this amount of pressure in confined areas, these fish, which were inactive to begin with, will become increasingly negative. I still don’t understand why most anglers assume that all fish in the winter will be suspended over deep basins. While this is the case for some fish, the most aggressive, and usually the largest, fish will stay in shallower water even after the weeds begin to die off. While they will vacate the areas they inhabited at first ice, they generally will not stray far.

The best areas I have found for midwinter fishing is mid-depth flats. These areas are generally 7-15 feet in depth and will have large areas of soft bottom. The soft bottom is important in that it will hold a large amount of biomass, such as macroinvertebrates and other aquatic larvae. This is the time of year when many of the insects that will hatch in the spring and summer begin to reach larval stages and move around, making them an easy meal for fish. With the abundance of good maps ranging from the DNR to GPS chips, it should take an angler long to find a flat that is close to where weeds would grow in the summer.

The next step is to drill holes in a grid pattern and find the soft bottom using a flasher. It’s surprising the amount of anglers who don’t know how to use their flashers to read bottom makeup. As a rule with flashers, the thicker and more red the bottom signal is, the harder the bottom; so a very narrow band would indicate a soft bottom. Good areas to target on flats are transition areas, such as when soft bottom becomes hard bottom, the deep edge of the flat, and any green weeds that may still be standing. One weed to specifically look for this time of year is Curly-leaf pondweed. This species of vegetation often comes out of dormancy before others, often as early as late January into mid-February and fish will begin to use it as soon as it greens up.

Because fish are actively seeking out aquatic insects, plastics are a great bait at this time of year. I prefer to start my fishing with a Lindy Fatboy paired with either a Micro-mino or a Munchies split-tail. The fish are often on the move requiring a jig that gets down to fish fast before they have the opportunity to move on. When you can get one fish to bite on a flat, others will be attracted to the commotion, so getting a jig back down to the fish before they can leave is huge. This is one of the major advantages of using plastics, not having to rebait! Not only does it save your fingers on those cold days, but it can also mean the difference between 1 fish out of a hole and 4 fish.

Next time you head out don’t waste your time in that pile of fish houses over the deep hole. Get yourself a good lake map and drill some holes over a flat. Not only will you likely find some aggressive panfish, you may just happen into a true trophy!
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Matt Johnson
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#16926 - 01/25/10 06:28 PM Re: Midwinter Flats Fishing - Bob Bohland [Re: Matt Johnson]
matt p Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 08/25/09
Posts: 1441
Loc: White Bear Lake, MN/ Menomonie...
This is a great article, ill start looking for this!!
_________________________
Fishing = An Addiction..

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#16927 - 01/25/10 08:04 PM Re: Midwinter Flats Fishing - Bob Bohland [Re: matt p]
Michael Thompson Offline
TB Moderator

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 842
Loc: Minneapolis Minnesnowcold
Nice tips Bob! I will be doing this Saturday! laugh

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#16938 - 01/25/10 11:51 PM Re: Midwinter Flats Fishing - Bob Bohland [Re: Michael Thompson]
Bobb-o Offline
TB Moderator

Registered: 02/23/09
Posts: 654
Loc: St. Paul, Mn
if you are gonna be doing it saturday, you gonna call me over when you find that pod of fish? i think you should!

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#16939 - 01/26/10 06:11 AM Re: Midwinter Flats Fishing - Bob Bohland [Re: Bobb-o]
Michael Thompson Offline
TB Moderator

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 842
Loc: Minneapolis Minnesnowcold
if you see us stay in one area for more than a half hour, we are getting em. sure you can join us! I am bringing my grill and cooking up some chicken in the afternoon too...

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