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That’s A Lotta’ Water Out There Daddy

By Bob Jensen

I was introduced to fishing by my Dad at a very young age.  We fished from shore at small ponds and streams.  We caught mostly bluegills and the occasional largemouth bass.  We could see the fish in the water and often got them to bite.  See a fish, put a worm in front of it, we usually caught it.  That’s how we fished back in those days.

One day Dad told me that we had been invited to go fishing with a friend who had a boat.  This was big-time! I was excited to go fishing in a boat on a large lake.  When we arrived at the lake, I remember this clearly:  I was standing on the end of the dock looking out over the largest body of water that I had ever seen while the adults put the boat in the water.  When it was time to get in the boat, I vividly remember saying, “That’s a lotta’ water out there Daddy.”  That was perhaps the most profound statement that I’ve ever made.  There’s a lot of water, or ice out there, and sometimes it can be a bit intimidating trying to figure out where the fish are.  It doesn’t need to be.  

People who fish are an optimistic bunch.  We look out at an expansive body of water and think that we can put a lure close enough to a fish to get it to eat that lure.  Or we drill an eight inch hole in the ice on a lake that’s thousands of acres and truly believe that there will be a fish underneath that hole. Someone who doesn’t fish might question our optimism, and sometimes even those of us who enjoy fishing don’t understand such positivity.   However, as we become more knowledgeable about fishing, we realize that our goal of catching a few fish and maybe even more than a few is attainable.  We just need to remember a few things.

First thing:  It’s estimated that ten percent of the water holds ninety percent of the fish.  Locate that ten percent and the odds for success get much better. 

Second thing:  Although most of the fish that we’re after will be found in a small area, those areas will change as the seasons change.  Most freshwater gamefish spawn in the spring.  Northern pike spawn first, walleyes next, bass a little later.  Usually, when they’re spawning, they’ll be tougher to catch. You’ll probably be more successful if you fish for another species that isn’t in the spawning mode.

After the spawn, the fish will be looking for something to eat.  They’ll start their search close to the spawning grounds.  From then until ice-over they’ll be close to whatever it is that they’re eating.  A fish’s diet changes as the conditions change.  For instance, depending on the body of water and as the season’s progress, walleyes will eat minnows early in the year, then leeches, nightcrawlers, crayfish, or mayflies.   As the water starts to cool in the fall, they’ll often feast on frogs and will also circle back to a minnow diet.

So yes there is a lot of water or ice out there.  But if we focus on the areas where the fish are most likely to be, drilling an eight inch hole in the ice or casting a lure to a log along the shoreline because we think that there’s a fish there gives us reason for optimism.

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