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A Nice Day on the Ice

One of my favorite “nice day” winter activities is a simple, solo day on the ice chasing fish.  It seems after the holiday season is complete and winter’s doldrums have fully set in, that a break in the weather draws me outside for some “me time” and there isn’t much better way to spend that time than on the ice chasing fish.

For me mid-winter ice fishing means panfish, particularly crappies, as these fish are usually among the more cooperative ones now.  And, crappies often roam basin areas in some of the same general areas in many lakes year after year.

Though these basins are predictable holding spots, the fish will often roam exhibiting unpredictable movement patterns.  For that reason, a lightweight ice auger and flasher sonar unit are my best friends now.  I use a cordless electric drill powered K-Drill because it’s lightweight making it easy to carry and it is also reliable for popping holes.  And, my FLX-30 sonar has superior fish revealing capabilities and is powered by a lithium-ion battery so it’s light making it easy to carry as well and it stays charged for days.  Armed with these two pieces of equipment, I can usually find crappies fairly quickly by drilling several holes until they are found.

As for lure choices, I often rely on a small jigging spoon tipped with a minnow head or some waxworks to pick off active fish.  The Jointed Pinhead Pro spoon has been a good crappie producer recently.  In addition to a spoon, I always have another rod rigged with a Drop Jig and waxworm combination.  This tungsten jig crashes through slush in a hole and quickly gets down to the fish, yet is small in profile for tempting reluctant biters.  Nevertheless, I never spend more than a few minutes on finicky fish and, often a school only stays in an area for a few minutes, meaning moving and drilling more holes often leads to more fish.

This style of fishing requires some physical exertion, yet I find it invigorating to get out on a nice winter day and move from hole to hole searching for crappies and then trying to entice them into biting!

The last bit of advice I would offer anglers interested in similar trips on the ice is to consider the right rod and line choices.  I prefer light fluorocarbon lines specifically formulated for smooth handling in cold conditions and used in conjunction with a sensitive rod.  Fluorocarbon line like Frost Ice is nearly invisible to the fish which can be important when chasing wary crappies living in clear water and handles well too.  As for rods, a Scepter Stick is an affordable rod which does a good job of helping me sense bites and the new Scepter Carbon Rod is even better for those wanting to up the ante a bit in their winter fishing rod arsenal.

Winter and ice fishing go hand in hand all across the Midwest and what better way to spend a nice winter day than being outside chasing crappies?   Hopefully the tips just offered can help anglers wanting to get in on the fun and find mid-winter outdoor successes now too.

Good luck on the ice and, as always, remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!

Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV show airing on The Sportsman Channel and several other carriers.  Visit to see all things Fishing the Midwest!

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