RE: First ice
Here on Saginaw Bay, first ice is usually always a perch bite. We catch perch in as little as 9" of water up near the cattails when they come in to get the migrating minnows. This bite slowly moves further off shore as the ice thickens. In general thou, the walleye bite won't start until a man can get to that 16 to 24 foot of water mark. Only during the late winter/early spring can you find and catch walleye in that shallow water zone, as they work their way closer to shore near the river mouths and their chosen spawning river. As far as structure goes on Saginaw Bay, there isn't much to be had. There are slight ledges that run along the shore where the depth zones change. These are usually marked by a shoreline crack that can run for miles paralell to the shore. Of course there are some deep water humps that are still marked on the old Loran Navigation Maps. Most often though, when cross checking my own fish-catching spots in conjunction with my PC, Loran CD and GPS fixes, I find that most often, its just a flat spot on the Bay. A walleyes instinct is to continually roam and forage. In places where structure won't hold or funnel their favorite prey, thats pretty much all they do all day.