Finding first-ice fish: A perchy plan falls Into place


Don’t you just love it when a plan falls into place? It doesn’t happen often—certainly not as frequently as we’d like—but everything came together perfectly yesterday when I was searching for yellow perch.

Actually, come to think of it, that is not true, because I wasn’t searching at all.  I better explain.


Earlier this summer, my granddaughter Kiera and I discovered a jumbo yellow perch glory hole—Valhalla, paradise. I mean, the spot was literally crawling with huge yellow and black striped bandits—it was harder to catch a perch under 12 inches than over—that bit our baits with total abandon. It was so good that when I was muskie fishing later in the fall, I put the Humminbird Ice Helix 7 that I use for ice fishing into the boat and cruised more than 30 minutes out of my way, so that I could punch in the waypoints where we had done so well. That way I would have them for the winter.

Crazier still, that weekend when I was doing my “Fish Talk With The Doc” segment on the Outdoor Journal Radio Show, I remember telling host Angelo Viola what I had done and how it was going to pay me big dividends this winter. Well now, guess where I pointed my snowmachine on Friday?


That is right…

But it gets even better, because normally I drill eight or 10 holes when I arrive at a location so that I can work various depths and a variety of spots. But I was so excited to be back that I punched only one hole through the ice with my new ION G 2one single hole—and it was smack dab on the waypoint that I’d entered into the Helix 7 in the fall. I even circled around on the ice a couple of times, watching the cursor on the unit, so that I wasn’t just close to the waypoint, I was planted on top of it. Truth be told, I couldn’t even see the waypoint on the screen because the cursor covered it. That is how precisely I was zeroed in.


And get this—the whole time I was rigging lures on my ice rods, I was monitoring the screen out of the corner of my eye, seeing wide marks scrolling across it. There were so many and they were so big, that I was actually fumbling around like a little kid as I tried to tie on the baits. That is when I honestly laughed out loud and reminded myself, Hey, they have been here since the summer, so take your time. They’re not going to leave now!

And they didn’t.

Now, it is too late to punch in waypoints the way I did, although you can transfer them across if you have access to the unit that sits on your boat, or if you’ve downloaded and saved your waypoints on your PC or other device. Failing all of that, it’s worth remembering where you enjoyed your best success this fall—for walleye, black crappies, yellow perch or whatever—and head straight there when safe ice prevails. It is the way perfect plans fall into place.