The Not-So-Dead Dead Zone

Just because a good bite or fishable water might not be easily accessible this time of year, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be getting ready!

In my neck of the woods it’s this time of year when we have a few weeks where it can be difficult to safely ice fish, yet too much ice to launch a boat out most places. With a little creativity you can, however, cure that cabin fever until the ice-out bite goes into full swing.

On The Water

  • Many small rivers can be fished with small boats or even by wading. As a walleye guy this can be a great time to look at different species such as steelhead until things get underway with your preferred species.
  • Perhaps not the safest, but pushing small boats out past shore ice to fish can be effective when proper safely procedures are in place.
  • Ice fishing from marinas where you actually don’t get on the ice, but drill your holes and fish from permanent docks that have been left in all winter.
  • Many lakes have hot ponds that can be accessed most of the year. Depending on launching location make sure to check wind conditions so you won’t have a launch full of ice when you return.

Off The Water

This is a very busy time for me as I spend a large chunk of time getting ready for a long season of guiding and working with my partners. Tasks such as making sure enough stinger hooks are tied or the paint is knocked out of jig eyes, which is a simple task that no one wants to do while fishing. Below are a few of the other tasks I rely on to ensure I’m 100 percent ready to hit the water when the time is right.

  • Respool reels and make sure line counters are calibrated.
  • Check crankbait hooks and replace those that are damaged or rusty.
  • Make sure boat batteries are fully charged and in working condition. A load test helps to make sure all cells are fully functioning.

  • Look at boat registration and safety equipment expiration dates to avoid a ticket on the first trip out.

These lists could easily be as long as your arm, but the point is to not sit and pout about the weather. Make the best of this down time before you become so busy with life and fishing that you can’t fully prepare yourself to be successful on the water.

Be sure to check me out on the web at or on Facebook

Capt. Ross Robertson

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