Greener BeeGreen ElectronicsOutdoors: Angling for pan fish in midwinter depressions

Every angler talks about the proverbial fishing hole and in reality there are places I angle through the ice that could be defined as a fishing hole.

These are what I call depressions or scoops on the lake bottom that hold lots of crappies and bluegills during the winter months. Here is a thumbnail sketch on what I look for and some insights on picking the right area.

By studying your lake maps and observing the topography, find the deepest part of any given lake and begin your scouting.
Submitted photo

Deepest part of any given lake
Once I get my hands on a lake map I look for the deepest part of the lake basin looking for depressions or holes. A good example would be a lake that has about 20 feet on the average but sports two depressions that are 60 feet deep – that’s what I am looking for. These are the deep-water depressions that pan fish use to rest and relax during mostly daylight hours.

Possible food sources
These deep depressions are always over muddy or soft bottoms, which seem to produce the majority of the food such as insects and larvae throughout the winter. These food sources will often rise from the bottom during the day and sometimes after dark.

These upcoming insects will look like little green lines on your electronics. They will move in unison and rise at exactly the same pace every time. If you have little green lines you will have crappies and bluegills nearby.

Scouting the holes
When I first approach a lake and I already know where the deep holes are located, the scouting begins. I start drilling holes in the deepest part of the depression and watch my electronics for about 10 minutes.

If there is fish presence, you will know in short order. If nothing comes up on the screen, leave and try another depth maybe 10 feet shallower than you already checked. I don’t wet a line until I see fish. Two anglers can cover a ton of territory using this scouting strategy.

Depth is relative
Every depression or hole is relative to the body of water. Twenty feet of water could be the golden depth on a shallow lake while 70 feet could be the sweet spot on a deep, clear lake.

I have caught crappies and bluegills down to as deep as 77 feet. You just have to know where to look.

Steve Carney is an outdoors columnist for ABC Newspapers

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