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Walleye of all sizes move from shallow to deep water and vice versa throughout the winter. These movements vary from lake to lake and are largely influenced by the presence of forage. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Dock Talk: How to solve the ice hole problem? Move.

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outdoors Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
(218) 732-8757 customer support
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Earlier this week, I did something crazy. No, I didn't shoot myself out of a canon, or swallow six swords simultaneously. Instead, I didn't go fishing.

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Yeah, I know, crazy.

Don't think the idea of spending a few hours on the ice didn't enter my mind, but I chose to prepare for Christmas (only homemade gifts this year), downhill ski with my family and watch my stepson wrestle. No, not with his brothers--I can see those matches any day--but in an actual Minnesota State High School League wrestling meet.

I watched those kids grab and pull, twist, bend and push each other into contortions that made me writhe in my seat. My joints hurt just from attending the event, even though I never set foot on the mat.

As the meet concluded and my boys and I walked down the stands and toward the lobby, a gentleman stopped me to ask advice concerning a predicament. An angling predicament.

His layers of clothing were stacked thick and it was obvious the wind had continuously whistled against his cheeks; deep red hues from winter's sub-zero breath. He had stepped out of the ice age and into the gymnasium.

Our eyes met and he immediately started a conversation. As my boys dawdled off into the current of a streaming crowd, the man posed a question regarding fishing.

He went on to explain that he strategically placed his fish house in one of his favorite "honey holes". In fact, his family had even joined him on an ice adventure and experienced the thrill of continuous walleye action.

"But," the man professed, "out of the four holes in my fish house, we can only catch fish out of two of them."

"What should I do?" he asked.

Well this was an easy question, I thought. "Only fish out of the two good holes," I advised. He didn't look very amused.

He went on to explain that his fish house was placed right along a drop-off. Two of the holes sat atop 21 feet of water, while the other two were situated in 19 feet of water. The deeper holes continued to produce more fish.

Unfortunately there are several explanations as to why the two holes were more productive instead of one concrete theory.

For instance, the fish may relate to the slightly deeper water due to the presence of forage. Or they could be swimming along the base of the drop-off as they wander in search of a meal.

There's also a possibility that the bottom is a slightly different composition even though the holes are relatively close to one another. A variety of additional justifications come to mind, including water temperature, oxygen levels, water clarity; the list could fill a page.

Yet in reality, we may never know the precise reasoning.

"Why don't you simply move the fish house a few feet deeper toward the most productive holes?" I asked the man.

"I already did," he replied. Problem solved.

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