In areas where the majority of the lakes and ponds are smaller, you probably won’t have access to a given lake’s topographic and contour map. Therefore, it will be up to you to map and scout out their fishing areas on your own if you have the means. You can go about this a number of ways. Some anglers choose to record data and create their own maps for ice season use, while others tend to use pre-made maps and GPS and just plot out the areas they plan to fish.

One great tip I can share is to try to find and map out smaller, less popular locations where fish will migrate when more popular spots and structures become crowded. Things like a small rock pile to side of a major reef, lone weed pods, or submerged brush off the beaten path are good places to start your search.

If you spend enough time looking before the ice arrives, you can find enough of these small, oft-overlooked spots to last you the entire winter. Furthermore, there’s a good chance you’ll see better results from the under-pressured fish you’ll find there.

The more time and energy you put into your pre-ice preparations, the better your success is likely to be this winter. So if you’re thinking of trying out ice fishing, or even if you’re an experienced ice angler, I’d think about putting more time into your prep in order to fill your cooler.