Author Topic: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?  (Read 975 times)

Offline T-Hawker

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Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« on: Nov 27, 2020, 07:37 PM »
I live in North Central WI.  For the past few years I've been in a rut fishing the same flowage a few miles from home.  With no bucks running around the hunting property that I'd shoot, I decided to spend this morning exploring other lakes near me.  I would say the are conservatively 200 lakes with public access within 1 hour drive of my home (likely much more).  I focused today on about a dozen smaller lakes off the beaten path (had fun 2 tracking the old Jeep XJ).  Most of the lakes I visited varied from 10 to 50 acres in size.  Most of them were in the 10-20' depth range.  I'm just going off DNR maps as I did not find any walkable ice to actually go on the hard water today.

Driving to find the lakes is one thing but waiting for solid ice and actually fishing them to determine what may be in them will be much more time consuming.

Any Ice Shanty folks have thoughts / experience with "pothole" lakes in North Central WI?  Are they generally worth a try or are there some general rules (i.e. 40 acres or larger, minimum depths, etc).  I definitely want to try some this winter but I'm trying to somewhat strategically narrow my focus by prioritizing certain lakes over others because at the moment when I look at my GPS map with waypoints of lakes I could try, it's a bit overwhelming.  Realistically perhaps I could try 15 new lakes in a season (which is getting shorter by the day with these warm temps) so it would take decades to try to fish every lake within a 1 hour radius.

While I realize there will be exceptions (i.e. giant crappies in a very small lake), in general do fish get stunted in tiny bodies of water?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts. 

Seasoned deer hunter, greenhorn fisherdude.

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #1 on: Nov 27, 2020, 08:06 PM »
I've done this before and fish a few tiny lakes here and there out of the way.  I will say that at times I did find a few large sized fish, but it's probably a stocked fish that grew up to that size.  It's not much point in putting those fish on the plate cuz it would just basically kill the fish population as a sort on some small lakes.  Then again there are a few small well known lakes that keeps producing good year class size almost every year.

This also applies to first thaw spring fishing too.  I am very surprised at what I was able to catch on a whim just by the size of the fish. 
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Offline Petoskey

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #2 on: Nov 27, 2020, 08:10 PM »
I live in North Central WI.  For the past few years I've been in a rut fishing the same flowage a few miles from home.  With no bucks running around the hunting property that I'd shoot, I decided to spend this morning exploring other lakes near me.  I would say the are conservatively 200 lakes with public access within 1 hour drive of my home (likely much more).  I focused today on about a dozen smaller lakes off the beaten path (had fun 2 tracking the old Jeep XJ).  Most of the lakes I visited varied from 10 to 50 acres in size.  Most of them were in the 10-20' depth range.  I'm just going off DNR maps as I did not find any walkable ice to actually go on the hard water today.

Driving to find the lakes is one thing but waiting for solid ice and actually fishing them to determine what may be in them will be much more time consuming.

Any Ice Shanty folks have thoughts / experience with "pothole" lakes in North Central WI?  Are they generally worth a try or are there some general rules (i.e. 40 acres or larger, minimum depths, etc).  I definitely want to try some this winter but I'm trying to somewhat strategically narrow my focus by prioritizing certain lakes over others because at the moment when I look at my GPS map with waypoints of lakes I could try, it's a bit overwhelming.  Realistically perhaps I could try 15 new lakes in a season (which is getting shorter by the day with these warm temps) so it would take decades to try to fish every lake within a 1 hour radius.

While I realize there will be exceptions (i.e. giant crappies in a very small lake), in general do fish get stunted in tiny bodies of water?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
I grew up fishing a whole bunch of small lakes like that in Michigan. Can't really give you a Wisconsin point of view but here's my two cents..

In my opinion it can end up being some of the most fun ice fishing there is. Nothing like having a super small body of water all to yourself (as long as you know there is fish in it). As far as whether the fish are stunted...there's a bunch of different factors that would determine that. I know Wisconsin has a lot of bog lakes so I imagine a lot of them would have bass and panfish. I do know that there is an issue with eutrophication on lots of lakes like these in the Northern Midwest.

I would just say do as much research and scouting as best as you can. Only way you can find it is by trying!

Offline Iceassin

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #3 on: Nov 27, 2020, 08:29 PM »
They sure are. My top 3 lakes for gills are less than 100 acres. But I dont think it's the size in area that's important. More the quality of the water, depth and vegetation ( a lot of small lakes have these ). And lakes where fish are stunted is usually the lack of predator fish ( a lot of small lakes don't have these ).
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Offline Evinrude58

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #4 on: Nov 27, 2020, 08:58 PM »
Give a few a try, worst that happens is you waste a few hours not catching. One of my favorite soft water fishing spots as a kid was maybe 2-3 acre pond I found exploring the neighboring farms. I asked the owner if I could fish it and he told me I could but his family had been on the farm for a 100 years and as far as he knew nobody had ever fished it. I caught lots of good sized Bass and Gills in that lake. Wish I could fish it still. There is a really small creek (more of a babbling brook) near my house and I have seen kids catch some really nice fish from the few small deep pools in it. 

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #5 on: Nov 28, 2020, 07:06 AM »
They are to me! Like Evinrude said,  around here, the area is dotted with really small lakes and reservoirs.  ("Pond fishing") Haveta utilize those unless you want to load up everything and drive 45 miles. They're walk out lakes only, too. Had some of my best pannie and rainbow catches on these small lakes. Prob is, pretty soon word gets out, and *WHAM* next time ya go it looks like this....and that's the end of that spot.





                                    


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Offline SKIFFLAKEJIMMY

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #6 on: Nov 28, 2020, 07:15 AM »
My personal best Crappie and Perch came out of the same 15 acre lake.
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Offline Gunflint

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #7 on: Nov 28, 2020, 07:18 AM »
My best walleye fishing of the summer came from a 13 acre lake with about 12 foot maximum depth.

I don't think that this approach works too well on Lake Trout, however...just sayin.
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Offline crappeye

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #8 on: Nov 28, 2020, 09:51 AM »
Give em a try. I fish mostly farm ponds and small public lakes 1- 50 acres. Easy to find fish and if they’re not biting in one move to another. There are really nice panfish in small water.

Offline hardwater diehard

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #9 on: Nov 28, 2020, 10:07 AM »
Some of those small ponds can offer huge dividends...plus may be out of the wind ..you know for those days you can go but can do without the blow ...and they tend to be the first to freeze up ..you know to scratch that itch .
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Offline dsupercat

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #10 on: Nov 28, 2020, 11:08 AM »
As others have said it really matters on the water quality.  A lot of the small shallow lakes do suffer from winter kill so they might be good one year and non existent the next if it is a hard winter.

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #11 on: Nov 28, 2020, 11:21 AM »
I will try any body of water that has safe ice.small lakes can surprise you..

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #12 on: Nov 28, 2020, 11:28 AM »
Lots of small spring-fed lakes around here. They can really produce if you know the lake. (That's called "old school")

                                    


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Offline SKIFFLAKEJIMMY

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #13 on: Nov 28, 2020, 11:48 AM »
I will try any body of water that has safe ice.small lakes can surprise you..
I keep a hand auger and a rod or 2 in the truck all winter. Never know when you might find a target of opportunity.
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Offline Snitch#8

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #14 on: Nov 28, 2020, 05:23 PM »
I think everyone in Michigan should leave the smaller lakes to me!  Smaller lakes are great, first off, there isn't as much water to try and find the fish.  Second, a lot of fishermen overlook them and they have a tendency to not get over fished.  And, you usually don't have to fight big crowds.  I have to say I never could figure out how I can be fishing Saginaw Bay, which covers about a hundred miles of water, when inevitably a crowd will want to sit within 10 feet of me.  I don't mind meeting new people on the ice and helping to put them onto fish, but I want to do it, at my leisure, I really don't care to have it forced on me by people moving in and deciding they can fish holes I drilled.  I was using two poles one day and decided to take the one pole out of the hole because I couldn't keep up with two.  I actually had some jack a_ _ walk up and put his hook down the hole I left idle.  Guys like that just need to be thumped and left on the ice, only to wake up and wonder where I went.   

Offline VTLakers

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #15 on: Nov 29, 2020, 03:01 AM »
I will try any body of water that has safe ice.small lakes can surprise you..

x2 on this. never know what you'll catch and you might be surprised with what comes through the hole. My PB bass if 7.5lbs out of a 5 acre public pond

Offline TheCrappieFisherman

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #16 on: Nov 29, 2020, 07:40 AM »
Definitely worth a try.  Some of my best sized panfish have come from small backwoods lakes in MN.  Like talked about above, the lake characteristics will determine fish populations and size class, each lake will be different, some will be busts. Look for ones feeder creeks  :whistle:  Try a few out this winter and see what you find. Next spring/summer start checking them out with a small boat or kayak also and see what you find.

Offline Gunflint

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Re: Are Small Lakes Worth Trying?
« Reply #17 on: Nov 29, 2020, 07:56 AM »
Definitely worth a try.  Some of my best sized panfish have come from small backwoods lakes in MN.  Like talked about above, the lake characteristics will determine fish populations and size class, each lake will be different, some will be busts. Look for ones feeder creeks  :whistle:  Try a few out this winter and see what you find. Next spring/summer start checking them out with a small boat or kayak also and see what you find.

Feeder creeks bring in both oxygen and an significant amount of food (insect larva) that would contribute to a better population.
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