Article by: Gord Pyzer on northernontario.travel
It often surprises anglers to learn that fishing is as much a mental game as it is one of employing technical and physical skills. And of all the head scratching questions that ice anglers face when we fish on hard water across Northern Ontario is whether the best strategy is to run and gun or to sit and stay.
In other words, are you likely to catch more walleyes, yellow perch, black crappies, lake trout and northern pike if you drill several holes in one or two key areas and then stay there for the rest of the day in anticipation that the fish will come to you, or is it better to run and gun and keep moving around the lake spending no more than 20 or 30 minutes at any one location if the fish aren't biting?
It is the $64,000 question and the one that I wrestle with every time I drive the snowmachine off the trailer and head down lake.
And we always run and gun, spending no more than 20 or 30 minutes at any one spot if we're not catching fish with consistency. As a result, many days we'll snowmachine 15, 20, sometimes 30 or more miles, fish seven, eight or nine disparate locations, and drill 80, 90 even 100 or more holes.
Our theory is that two moving objects have a much greater chance of hitting each other. Especially when you consider that lake trout are cold water loving, top predators that are prone to harassing schools of open water pelagic forage fish like ciscoes, smelts and shiners.
Indeed, at one of the spots where Doug and I stopped when we were filming recently, I noticed a large school of baitfish suddenly flicker across my sonar screen about 25-feet above my lure. I quickly retrieved line as fast as I could reel it in, swimming the lipless crankbait right through the pod of baitfish, imitating a panicking shiner exiting and fleeing the school. That is when I spotted a bright crimson arch on my Humminbird sonar screen chasing after my lure, and then "pow", my rod buckled over under the weight of a beautiful lake trout.
Giving equal time to the opposing position, however, I have two friends - Ryan Knutson, who travels over from Winnipeg to ice fish for Sunset Country lake trout every chance he can get and John Jakobs who lives and fishes near Dryden - and they've both been icing plenty of nice Northern Ontario lake trout this winter while staying put on one or two key spots.
The operative word in their strategy, of course, is "key spot".
When you decide to roll the dice and put all of your eggs into one basket, it is vitally important to spend the necessary time examining bottom contour charts in order to identify high traffic fish locations through which you suspect the trout are staging or filtering.
Indeed, John, who is one of the top guides on Eagle Lake, has accumulated a number of waypoints over the years - underwater points, ledges with sharp breaklines and shoals - where he knows the lake trout like to mill about and rest.
Proving that you can be extremely successful when you pick your spots carefully, Ryan one day caught and released 23 lake trout.
I should mention, too, that the same principles apply to all of the other species that we love to ice fish for in Northern Ontario, including walleye, yellow perch, black crappies, whitefish and northern pike.
Which brings us full circle and back to our original question: is it best to run and gun or wiser to sit and stay?
When you're ice fishing in any one of the hundreds of thousands of lakes and rivers in Northern Ontario, the best answer appears to be a resounding, whatever suits your fancy.
For more information on fishing in Ontario visit northernontario.travel
Author bio: Gord Pyzer is well-known in Canadian fishing circles as Doctor Pyzer because of his work for Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources. He's now one of Canada's top fishing communicators and a member of the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame. Gord is a two time winner of Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Presidents Cup and is an internationally sought speaker, tournament angler and co-hosts the Real Fishing Radio Show with Bob Izumi.
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