by Bob Jensen

The days are getting longer, and, although you might not believe it, it's going to get warmer. History would indicate that it's going to get warmer. March is almost always warmer than February, even in years that include a Polar Vortex. Longer days and warmer temps this time of year mean that some really good ice-fishing is soon to come. Here are some ideas for finishing the ice-fishing season successfully.

Late Season Ice Fishing

Try different things on the ice during the late season and you'll have more fishing success​
Even through the ice and snow, fish seem to be able to sense a change in the seasons. They instinctively know through their relationship with Mother Nature that it's time to start thinking about spawning, so, under the cover of ice, they start to head in the direction of where they will spawn. They don't just take off and go there; they take their time and leisurely head for their spawning areas. As they travel, they like to eat. Walleyes, northern pike, perch, crappies, bluegills: Most fish that live in the Midwest will be getting hungrier and easier to catch right now. You don't want to completely abandon the areas you've been fishing all winter, but you need to keep in mind that those off-shore humps and such that were holding fish for the past two months may start drying up. When they start slowing down on the off-shore spots, you need to start moving to keep up with the fish.

There will still be an early-in-the-day and a late-in-the-day bite, but on a lot of bodies of water, the bite has the potential to be pretty good all day. Not all lakes, but some lakes.

This time of year you need to keep moving until you find the fish. Try different depths, different structures, just keep moving until you find fish activity. When you find them, sit on them until they move, then you move too. That's the key to ice-fishing year 'round, but perhaps more under late ice.

Remember that the fish have seen lots of baits by now. If you've got something on the end of your line that's been working, keep using it until the fish tell you they want something else. Then go to a different color or a different size or impart a different action on the lure. If you've got a bait that hasn't worked all year, give it a try. Maybe the fish will decide that it looks pretty good to them now.

Last thing: Don't try to extend the season too far. If you're not sure if you should be on the ice, you probably shouldn't be. If no one else is out there, you shouldn't be either. Keep an eye on current conditions. If it starts to get really warm during the day, you should head for shore. Several years ago our group went out on the lake in our trucks and didn't pay enough attention to the warming conditions. As we headed back to shore at the end of the day, the ice had broken up and pulled away from the shore. We had to drive in a couple feet of water on the lake bottom for about one hundred yards. Exciting, interesting, memorable, but once was enough.

Be safe, be mobile, be creative, and the next few weeks of ice-fishing could be memorable for you in a good way.

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