What's the big deal with early ice? Several factors make this short window some of the most productive walleye fishing of the season. Wired2Fish staff McKeon "Keys" Roberts demonstrates how good first ice can be by icing 'eyes in short order.
Early ice overlaps the late fall period where walleye are actively feeding. During this time, the water below the ice has yet to reach its coldest point which directly affects fish activity. Another factor in lakes containing ciscoes is the fact that ciscoes spawn during this time. This means these favored walleye forage are numerous and accessible to them. McKeon adjusts presentations to more accurately represent ciscoes by favoring certain colors and fishing higher off the bottom.
Roberts also stresses the importance of timing and how it plays into fish movement. As a general rule of thumb, be on the ice at least an hour before sunset. Keep an eye on the clock and make a mental note as to what time you start seeing fish activity or start catching fish - this can be helpful during the narrow early ice period for efficiently intercepting fish as they move up on structure as the season progresses.