When choosing a spot to ice fish, we take into consideration travel and lake access, so we often set out with more than one destination in approximately the same area.
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 the possible usefulness of this neat unit 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 them in all these ponds is not cataloged anywhere, 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, 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. Most of this big lake has inhospitable water for crappie — they are primarily warm water fish and Winni has an inordinate amount of deep cold water. Asking the local bait shops there where the crappie are 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.