Whether you’re intent on tracking down walleyes, panfish or pike, one common scenario offers above-average chances for scoring first-ice success.

Shallow basin-type lakes common across much of Lindy Land are among the first fisheries to ice up—and often provide fast action for a variety of fish species.

Such lakes range in size from small prairie potholes and tiny farm ponds to massive systems like Minnesota’s Upper Red Lake. The common denominator is often a fertile forage base that fuels fast growth rates in bluegills, crappies, perch, pike and walleyes.

In many cases, small basins fly under the radar of the masses — either because they’re hard to access or simply overlooked as too small to provide good fishing.

Because dissolved oxygen levels dwindle in some shallow basin lakes as winter progresses, the best time to fish them is often at first ice and again in late winter, when incoming meltwater breathes life into the underwater world. Larger basins are less prone to midwinter slowdowns.

To find potential basin hotspots in your area, check with local fishery biologists from your state’s department of natural resources. They can often point you in the direction of sweet spots other anglers miss.

Guides and bait shop personnel are great sources of information, too, and you can also learn a lot about hot bites by monitoring fishing forums and social media posts.

Speaking of which, if you hit the mother lode on a small body of water, you might want to think twice before sharing it with the world. It doesn’t take many lines in the water to put the hurt on these fragile fisheries. If you want to enjoy the spot for more than a trip or two, practice restraint and keep it to yourself.