By Bob Bohland

The in-between times come twice a year for a fisherman. First, when winter begins to pull away her protective covering off the lake and it is no longer safe to venture out onto the frozen waterways to chase fish as they put on their feedbags in anticipation of the upcoming spring and spawn. Second is when winter begins her crawl across the waters as the ice slowly inches out to where you would like to fish, yet it is not safe enough to venture out.

The latter of these two times is easily dealt with if you are also a hunter. After all, there are ducks to shoot, pheasants to chase and grouse to wander after. And let us not forget the deer season, which rivals the number of outdoorsmen brought afield that the spring fishing opener brings to the lakes.

However, it is the slow, yet inevitable, process by which a lake thaws that brings the most pain to many anglers. Finally figuring out a body of water near the end of a long winter preoccupies the mind with 'What-ifs”. We all know too well standing near a body of water, wondering how good the fishing might be right now.

While this is a time to slow down and stop your time on the ice, that doesn't mean you should put away that ice fishing mindset. Now is the time to establish your goals for next winter. You didn't hit that one little pond hidden way back in the woods? Write it down. You never found where the bigger crappies were hiding on a lake that everyone sits on the basin fishing the mediocre ones? Write it down.

As you begin to store your ice fishing gear in the garage for the transition to open water, think about what and where you would like to fish next season. Because, I can guarantee you when that first ice bug hits you next November or December, you aren't going to be worried about what you didn't get to the previous season. You will be simply focused on getting after something/anything that will come up through a small hole drilled in the ice.

The recipe is simple, establish your goals for next season while you put way your gear and ready yourself for open water. This allows you time to rethink things or strategies you want to change. A little bit of retrospection goes a long way to success next season.