A day of ice fishing usually begins with seeking out your desired area and setting up somewhat of a camp. Drilling holes is the first step in getting your lines down and catching fish. Whether fishing shallower areas for perch, crappie or other panfish, or fishing in a hundred feet of water or more, you should consider drilling several holes as soon as you begin. There are a few reasons for this, mainly your goal is to allow the area to settle after drilling as well as having the option of easily moving from hole to hole as the bite slows down where you are fishing.
Spooky Schooling Panfish
Lets start with schooling panfish. Panfish such as Perch are schooling fish. This means they travel around in large groups looking for easy meals. Finding these fish through the ice, especially if you don’t have some sort of sonar device or fishfinder can be tough. Fishing for schooling fish is fun and the action is usually pretty hot once you find them. To make things a little less confusing when there is no option of a fishfinder or flasher, drill a number of holes. Once you’ve found a school, you want to be able to stay on top of them, even if they continue to move around looking for a meal.
Drilling Zig-Zag Fashion
When you begin to drill your holes, plan on drilling several of them, and plan on fishing them quickly. If there are schooling panfish nearby, it won’t take long for them to find your bait or lure. The best method I’ve used when locating fish without the help of sonar goes like this. Drill your first hole, and setup with either a tipup, handline or spinning rod. Once you’ve set your line and secured the rod, move on 10 or 20 paces in any direction. At this point, drill another hole and use your ladle to clean out the slush and ice. Walk back to the previous hole, and if you have yet to get a bite, bring up your line and move it to the second hole. Set up the same way you did at the first hole and walk another 10 or 20 paces to drill a third hole. By now you probably see what is happening here. You want to continue drilling holes in a zig zag fashion so that once you find schooling fish, you can do your best to follow that school around, dropping your bait into different holes as the bite slows down. If the action stops, just move on to the next hole, and the next after that as the school moves around.