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The arrival of warmer weather during March, typically the late ice period, provides exciting fishing opportunities. While walleyes, panfish and northern pike all have provided excellent angling opportunities for the hard-water angler, the action will only improve as spring creeps ever closer.

One of the best times for ice fishing is during the ďlate iceĒ period, which begins most often in the Wausau/central Wisconsin region during March and April. As the days grow warmer and longer and the ice begins melting, pike activity increases dramatically. Not only does action increase, but also an anglerís odds of catching a trophy-class fish.

When looking to target these toothy fiends, look for larger flats containing weeds, wood or a combination of the two. The best flats early on will be near deeper water and typically are in depths of 8 feet of water or fewer. As the ice continues to disappear, look for the mouths of bays and marshy backwaters to hold large numbers of northern pike as they migrate in large numbers into shallow water to spawn.

I use Frabill Pro-Thermal Tip-Ups exclusively for this type of shallow water fishing, as the design helps block sunlight from the hole. When fishing in shallow water, unnatural sunlight can make fish spook more easily, especially in situations with high fishing pressure. In addition, the Pro-Thermal has a large bait clip that acts to prevent oversized minnows from creating false trips of the flag. I prefer to rig my shiners or sucker minnows on a Bigtooth Tackle rig.

Active bait is important when targeting late-ice pike. Maintaining lively minnows is easily accomplished by keeping their oxygen supply adequate throughout the day. This can be done using an aerator. In shallow water, set your bait so that it is well above the weeds or wood. Pike cruising the area will be able to pick out the struggling meal silhouetted against the ice; you want your presentation to be over them, not under them. Be sure to have a curved forceps along, as well as a jaw spreader to help make the unhooking portion of your day as quick and effortless as possible.

More on fishing: Fishing news from around the state | Your fishing photos | Build a map | Read fishing reports

As exciting as the fishing can be, itís important to use common sense and to keep a level head. Depending on the body of water, ice conditions will change rapidly with the arrival of warmer and more sustained spring like weather. If it doesnít look safe enough, donít chance it; itís always better to live to fish another day! Iíll see you on the water Ö

Read more from Joel DeBoer.

Joel DeBoer is owner of Wisconsin Angling Adventures Guide Service,

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