With this year’s ice season fast approaching, many anglers are beginning to think about what lakes they want to try out. For many anglers it can be fairly intimidating at times depending on the size of the lake. But it doesn’t have to be. There are 3 basic steps you can take to make fishing new water easier and more prosperous, Info gathering, Game Planning and Fishing.
Info gathering is maybe the most important part of fishing a new lake. In the age of the Internet this has become very easy to do. The 1st thing to do is find maps, yes I said MAPS not a map. Depending on the lake you can have maps that show more of the lake contours or one that will show where springs come in, and they can even show you what type of bottom is in a giving area on the lake. All of this is critical info that if you can get it will help you dial in on fish that maybe even the locals didn’t know about.
One of the 1st stops to make is right here on OIM and out free lake maps page. Another place is to Michigan DNR website,they do a great job of putting out basic info for the lakes that have state owned access. Even some of the larger ones that are totally private you will be able to find info on them. If you dig a little deeper into their site you can even find net surveys and fish studies, and stocking reports for a giving lake. Pay attention to the dates on maps, and when surveys and net samples were taken. If you are lucky to find a map that has notes of where the samples were taken you can get an idea of what was going on, on the lake when they did the sampling.
Also get the biologist name and number that looks after that area where the lake is at. Shot them an e-mail sometimes they can give you great info on lakes and can even maybe point you to a lake you may have over looked in that area. Also try and find out where the local bait shops are and give them a call and ask questions. Another good source is the web forums, sometimes you can find someone that can give you detailed info on local hot spots and shorten your learning curve for that lake.
Now after you have gotten all your info, start forming your game plan. Compare the lake you’re going to go fish to a lake you know well. Find similar areas on the lake you’re going to fish, to lakes you know well. This will help you feel more comfortable with a lake. Also dust off some of those old fishing books and reread that section on the fish you want to target. Every once in a while something will hit like a bolt of lightning and might apply to that new lake. Make a note of the water clarity on the lake you’re going to fish. You should have found out in your info gathering stage what to expect when you get on the lake. If the lake you’re going to fish has darker water then the ones your normally fish maybe shift a bit shallower in your search. The reason for this is that weed growth in darker waters
tend to not go as deep as in clearer lakes. Make a milk run of places to check. This will help you get a pulse of the lake. Set it up so you can check different depths and structure.
Drill baby Drill!!!!! When you hit the lake keep moving go through your milk run completely. Make sure when you are checking structure to check shallow to deep. This is where if you have them, cameras and sonars can really speed up your tour of the lake. Make notes of fish size seen and caught, type of weeds, what type food you see. And anything else you come across that will help you form a pattern on the lake. Once you have gone through the milk run go back to the best areas.
At this time you will want to really go over that area or areas and fine tune what you are doing. Once you have that dialed in. You can now go and look back at your maps and maybe find other areas that you can apply your pattern to. If things are not panning out take a look at what the locals are up to and where they are fishing. Also it never hurts to make friends with them.