LOTS of fun looking up in the biological survey books from Fish and Game to determine where there may be trout in waters that were mostly considered managed for warm-water species..

From these lists of ponds and lakes, we’d go to the Delorme Atlas and find their locations and see if there was public access noted..

Choosing a spot to try, we had to take into consideration the amount of travel and if we had a good chance of accessing the lakes, so we often set out with more than one destination in approximately the same area — a plan B and often C.

When we set out, usually with friends, probably kids and dogs, we were always filled with anticipation. When we arrived at our chosen spots, we were often disappointed by either lack of good access or just poor conditions. But we always managed to fish somewhere and usually it was a new pond to us.

Today, this job of finding new places to fish is just too easy! First of all, the state’s stocking lists are readily available online at www.wildlife.state.nh.us. From this information there are several available online programs to direct you to the pond or lake that you choose to fish. One of my favorite resources is a program put out by Maptech that not only has topographical maps of the area but also has aerial photos.

Delorme also has some great mapping programs to get you there and the first in-industry hand held GPS that will allow you to download their TOPO USA maps on it. It’s called the Earthmate PN-20. We just purchased one of these units and it appears that its possible usefulness is endless!

On The NH Fish and Game’s site, you can also pick up information about some of the ponds’ and lakes’ bottom contours, which is a big help when starting out blind on a new pond!

Nowadays we enjoy ice-fishing for crappie probably more than any other fish. There’s quite a problem in finding listings for crappie ponds, as illegal introduction has spread these fish out over a huge area and the presence of crappie in all these ponds is not cataloged anywhere, Fishing So Much Easier to my knowledge. Our best resource for this information is the bait and tackle dealers. Also, an inquiry to Fish and Game’s Fishery Division probably would be answered in a timely manner.

Crappie are not like trout when it comes to their habits and what kind of places they like to hang out. They seem to like water depths of 15 to 40 feet and most of the time the best fishing is not on bottom but a few feet above bottom. Although crappie will school, Fishing So Much Easier these schools don’t move a lot like schools of yellow perch so if you find a good crappie spot on a particular lake, then that same spot will probably always be a good crappie place.

Some of our large bodies of water now hold illegally introduced crappie, such as Lake Winnipesaukee, although you wouldn’t believe it’s a good crappie lake unless you knew exactly where to fish for them.Fishing So Much Easier Most of this big lake has inhospitable water for crappie — they are primarily warm water fish and Winni has an inordinately amount of deep cold water.

Asking the local bait shops there where the crappie are apt to be found is probably the only good way to go after them there. At Winni it’s the same with white perch. They seem to be very fussy about where they will live in the big lake.

Technology Trends Rule Ice Fishing

you could walk into a tackle store prior to the ice fishing season, pick up an inexpensive rod, a few jigs, a box of wax worms and even a few accessories for about $10-$15.

Those memories flitted through my head as I wandered through the Clear H2o Tackle Shop near Edwardsburg during its Ice Tackle Open House last weekend.

Several buyers stood in line at the checkout counter with arms full of gear valued at a heckuva lot more than that.

They held $40 to $80 rods, $500 fishfinders, $400-$500 in specialized clothing and lightweight $200 ice augers.

Obviously, today’s ice angler is a lot more sophisticated and dedicated to the sport.

Does that mean you can no longer catch panfish by sitting on a bucket while jigging a tiny leadhead jig with a maggot attached?

Of course not. But innovations in ice fishing tackle have changed the way people view the sport. Today’s gear makes it easier to find fish and enjoy wintertime fishing. As a result, there are more ice fishermen today than there were 20 years ago.

Clear H2O owner Darrin Schaap, an avid ice angler, explained it this way.

“It’s like any other type of fishing,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who do quite well with the basic essentials, but more anglers are discovering innovations in ice tackle make them more efficient and comfortable on the ice.”

So what are those innovations and how much do they cost? Here’s a look at some of the latest trends in technology:

• Electronics: You can still buy a flasher style graph for around $300 that will show you fish, but many anglers are gravitating to multi-purpose electronics with flasher/graph and even GPS and mapping combined. Those units are priced $500 or more.

The top-of-the-line is the Garmin Panoptix, a $1,800 investment. It does everything other techy electronics do plus it allows the angler to look under the ice in a 100-foot circle.

“It saves a lot of time,” said Schaap. “You can drill the hole, drop the transducer in the water and look all around the hole. When you see fish, it will tell you how many feet away and what direction from where you are. Otherwise, you have to drill multiple holes to find the fish with standard electronics.”

• Augers: Manual ice drills haven’t changed much in looks but the blades are a lot sharper and sell for around $60. However, you can now get electric models powered with lithium batteries that eliminate a lot of the work but sell in the $400-$500 range. Some manufacturers claim you can drill 1,000 holes with one charge. Or, you can buy an adapter to put on a manual auger and power it with a cordless drill.

• Shanties: There are endless varieties of shanties that can fish multiple anglers. The pop-up version is more mobile and lighter. Basic one-man shanties sell for around $300 but you can now get them with insulated material, lights, padded seats and storage pouches. Those run $500 or more.

• Clothing: Sure, You can wear a sweatshirt, long jons and coveralls, but clothing made specifically for ice fishing will keep you warmer and on the ice longer. Today’s angler wears high performance undergarments and an insulated ice suit with padded knees. Newer versions contain flotation in case the angler falls through the ice. They run from $350 to $600.

• Rods and Reels: The hottest trend is rods matched with free-fall reels — push a button or lever and the bait descends automatically. No need to feed line by hand. They range from $30 to $110.

“You can still buy an ice rod for $5 made of fiberglass, but discriminating anglers have migrated toward specialized graphite rods with recoil guides and very sensitive rod tips that don’t require a bobber,” said Schaap. General prices range from $40 to $80.

• Tip-ups: You can still find everyday tip-ups for $10 but more expensive models (up to $100) come with lights and heating apparatuses to prevent the hole from freezing.

“Some motorized models will jig the bait, set the hook for you or send a signal to your cell phone or remote gadget that you have a bite,” said Schaap.

• Baits: Old-school lead jigs and flies are less expensive, but those made of tungsten cost a little more, yet they sink faster and offer a smaller profile. Also, Schaap said anglers are using more baits with tiny plastic bodies — without livebait.


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