The ice apocalypse is coming! I say that with a saddened expression because the coming of warm weather is signaling the end of the hardwater season. Some of the lakes around the Hills are no longer accessible, but we do still have a few left with good ice and accessibility, which should keep us on hardwater for another two-three weeks, weather permitting.
But this time of year, can be one of the best, as the snow melt begins trickling into the lakes and the increasing sunlight sends the fish back into the shallows to feed heavily in preparation for the spawn coming soon. This is beginning across the region and was demonstrated on a very recent trip.
My friend Matt and I wanted to target bluegills and crappies that were returning to the shallows at Stockade. We'd hoped to find some good sizes and maybe catch a marauding bass or pike on our Arctic Warrior setups. Using our K-Drills, we drilled a series of holes along the weedlines and drops in depth at spots on the east and west side of the lake.
Access on the west side was no problem, but on the east side, signs were there that access would soon be ending at the edges. Using Clam Pro Tackle, Drop Kicks and Northland Tackle, Mitee Mouse jigs, we caught numbers of small perch and gills and managed a few better gills as well as a couple of decent largemouth bass (always fun on light tackle), but no crappies or pike. The size wasn't there, but the numbers showed that the fish are returning to the shallows.
As this transition begins to happen, be sure to bring the safety gear again if you are planning a trip on the remaining ice. Lift suits, life jackets, safety ropes, picks, and spud bars should be coming back out on to the ice again. If you can get on the ice, the bite should be increasing daily as the water begins to warm and the weeds begin to grow again. The hardwater season is nearly done in our region. So be safe, but get out while you can.