It wasn’t exactly what I had planned. Here it was, mid-day and I was already on my way to my third lake.

It wasn’t supposed to be this difficult. The early season bite is usually strong on my favorite waters, but today had been a total bust.

Although I looked deep and shallow on my first lake, I couldn’t find a concentration of fish. A couple of miniature sunnies and a perch was all I had to show for my efforts.

Lake number two had been just as bad. Although I did locate some suspended fish I was sure were going to be crappies, they were gone before I got holes drilled and I never found them again.

Before unloading my four-wheeler at my third lake, I checked in with a local bait shop to see if I could garner any news. The report was bleak. Although there were a few fish being caught, there was nothing spectacular to report. They suggested going shallow.

As I got my wheeler ready to go, I kept wondering what was going on in the underwater world that was keeping the panfish from setting up in their normal winter haunts. I am a deep basin angler for most of the winter and usually save the really shallow stuff for late season.

I spent half an hour looking just outside the reeds where a smattering of fish had been taken recently. However, I never marked a thing.

My GPS directed me to a deep hole that had been productive in past seasons. Once in the general vicinity, I began searching. By pouring water on the ice and reading through with my Vexilar, I was able to cover a lot of ice quickly.

About the time I was ready to give up and head for home, I stumbled upon a very small area of suspended fish. After drilling out a few holes, I dropped my jig down to see what was biting.

These aggressive fish acted like they hadn’t eaten in weeks. In no time at all I had my ten crappies on the ice.

Although there was a happy ending to this story, it wasn’t all due to luck. Part of my success was due to my unwillingness to quit trying when I didn’t immediately succeed. Persistence does pay off sometimes.

I was also able to take advantage of information I had learned from previous fishing outings. Without a GPS reading, locating these fish would never have happened.

And then there was the process of looking before drilling holes. I spent most of the day searching for fish. My actual fishing time was minimal. However, this is often what it takes to be successful.

I am amazed at the anglers that come to a lake, set up their house and fish for hours in a spot that has no fish. They go home saying the fish weren’t biting when in reality, they never found fish to begin with because they never looked.

Winter fishing is extremely enjoyable but can also be labor intensive. Putting the effort into finding fish before setting up camp can make the process worthwhile.