Tips for a good ice fishing seasonIce fishing is in full swing across the Midwest. Although you still have to be careful out there, anglers are on the ice and they’re getting bit. Following are some ideas of how you can get bit on the ice more this winter. On early ice it’s a good idea not to move around too much. The ice is thin and often there’s not much snow on it. The fish are right below us, and often times they’re not too deep. They can detect us much easier, and when they know we’re there, they sometimes get spooky.
By: By Bob Jensen, Fishing the Midwest, The Jamestown Sun
Ice fishing is in full swing across the Midwest. Although you still have to be careful out there, anglers are on the ice and they’re getting bit. Following are some ideas of how you can get bit on the ice more this winter.
On early ice it’s a good idea not to move around too much. The ice is thin and often there’s not much snow on it. The fish are right below us, and often times they’re not too deep. They can detect us much easier, and when they know we’re there, they sometimes get spooky.
That all changes as we get farther into the year. The ice is thicker, there’s usually snow cover, and the fish are deeper. There’s also the possibility that the fish become conditioned to the noise and movement directly overhead. Now is when you want to be mobile. It works well to pop a bunch of holes in an area and move from hole to hole. Let your depth-finder determine how long you fish a hole. If your sonar reveals fish, fish them awhile. If it doesn’t, keep moving. If you don’t see activity within five minutes, move to the next hole. Lots of experienced ice anglers won’t even wait five minutes.
If you see fish, but they won’t eat, you have two options. You can move to another hole in search of biters, or you can try to make them bite. Usually if the fish are just looking, it works well to try a different size lure, a different color, or employ a different action. My all-time favorite ice-fishing lure for walleyes or perch is a Buck-Shot Rattle spoon, but even this bait doesn’t produce all the time. That’s when you start experimenting with other baits, maybe something quiet that doesn’t rattle, something like a Forage Minnow spoon, or maybe a plain hook/split-shot/ minnow under a slip bobber. Try different stuff when you know the fish are down there but they won’t bite.
The Gulp! products are making it easier to try different looks for your baits. They come in different shapes and colors for almost any fish you might be after under the ice, and you can carry them around easily.
Last thing: Ice fishing is not as much fun if you’re cold. With the clothing and footwear available today, there is no reason to be uncomfortable on the ice. You can be warm yet be able to move normally if you dress wisely.
Start off with a base layer of Cabela’s Polartec underwear. This stuff wicks moisture away from your body, and moisture is what will make you get cold. Consider one of the new suits designed specifically for ice-fishing. The new Ice Suit from Frabill is one of those suits. It was designed so the arms and elbows have lots of room for motion for setting the hook. It also has lots of pockets for bait bottles, hand-held GPS units, and whatever else an ice-angler might want. Best of all, it’s warm, but not cumbersome. If you’re into staying warm while ice-fishing, check this suit out.
Now all you have to do is get on the ice. Ice-fishing is just starting, and there are lots of fish to catch. Keep the things we just talked about in mind and you’ll catch some of those fish.
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