In Search of New Water

Jerry Carlson

It was with a leap of blind faith that long time fishing partner, Charlie Simkins and I headed towards Northern Minnesota on an ice fishing adventure. We really had no idea where we were going to fish but new we would probably figure something out.

Two of our fishing cronies had left a day ahead of us and were going to be doing some scouting while we were driving. There was a chance that by the time we arrived, a fishing destination may already be in place. And that was exactly what we found.

When we pulled into the remote hunting cabin for the rendezvous with our fishing buddies, we learned they had located a weed flat on a clear body of water that was holding bluegills. It was a place none of us had ever fished before. This looked to be a great opportunity to do some exploring on new water.

I will admit I am very guilty of getting into a rut when it comes to winter fishing and exploring new water. I have my favorite spots on a dozen different lakes that have produced fish for me quite consistently over the years. Like others, I tend to fall back onto the patterns that I know.

Even though I rely on the old stand-by locations for most of my winter angling, I do sometimes get the itch to look for something different. There are rewards that frequently come with new water exploration.

When it comes to searching out new water locations, I often rely on what I hear from others. Just because the lake is new to me doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t fish it all the time. Many times I will hear tidbits of information coming from other anglers that will give me a hint about what lakes I should be checking out.

Jerry Carlson

When I do get to unfamiliar water, I definitely want to have access to lake map information. Being able to find the deep holes and potential weed flats is absolutely critical.

The first thing I do on a new lake is to check out where other people have been fishing. Even if there are few fish in these areas, I can get a feel for the type of environment the fish are relating to. This gives me an idea about where I may need to look.

I also find that going with a group of anglers makes the searching process much easier. Efficiency is the key when searching new water and a group of people can cover ice quickly and short cut the process of finding fish.

That was definitely the case on our Northern Minnesota trip. With four of us roaming the weed flat where fish had been found, it didn’t take us long to figure out the areas that had the biggest concentrations of bluegills. This enabled everyone to zero in on quality fish.

Although there is nothing wrong with being a bit complacent about fishing our old haunts in the winter months, it is fun and challenging to venture off into uncharted water once in a while. When a person thinks about it, all of our favorite spots were once uncharted new waters.

Searching for new water may lead to a hotspot that will quickly become a favorite destination. You will never know if you don’t look!