Ice Fishing Ideas

By Bob Jensen

There was more frost on the ground this morning than there has been in several months.  A variety of birds have left the area for their winter homes, and other types of birds are gathering to do the same.  A check of the calendar confirms that winter is closing in.  It’s time to think about fishing through holes in the ice.  Following are a few things that some expert ice anglers do to catch more fish through those holes.

John Crane is one of the premier lure designers in the fishing business.  He’s been involved in the creation of many of the lures that we depend on to catch fish.  J.C spends hundreds of hours on the ice every year.  One of the things that he watches very closely is weather trends.  When he can be selective as to when he’s on the ice, he will plan to be out there when the weather is stable or just prior to a change in the weather.  Even below the ice, fish can feel weather changes.  Stable weather or the calm just before the storm can make the fish want to bite.  He increases his chances for success even more by being on the ice during a major solunar period.  The fish often respond favorably to these periods.

Excessive noise can spook the fish at any time of the year, but especially early in the year when the ice is thin and there isn’t much snow cover.  J.C. prefers an electric auger, and likes to use a six inch drill.  The smaller electric drill makes less noise going through the ice, and will also get through the ice faster.  Electric augers such as the K-Drill enable an angler to get through the ice with less noise, which means more fish on top of the ice. 

In a further attempt to be quiet, J.C. prefers not to wear creepers on his boots.  Boots with creepers make more noise than boots without creepers.  Extreme?  Maybe, but J.C. catches a lot more fish through the ice than most of us do.  Walk quietly and carefully.

When panfish are the target, many anglers like to use a jig tipped with live bait such as a spike or waxworm.  These baits certainly can be productive, but plastic baits are quickly taking the place of live baits.  Maki plastics are a somewhat new addition to the fishing world.  They come in a variety of shapes and colors, but most important is the subtle action they provide.  In the not-so- distant past, plastic baits needed to be moved aggressively to get any action from them.  Under the ice, aggressively moved baits are often avoided by panfish.  Maki baits have appendages that require very little movement to achieve a subtle motion.  Panfish respond very well to this subtle presentation.  Another bonus is that jig/plastics allow limitless color combinations.

Keep your bait above the fish.  Fish see up better than they see down. If your bait is above them, they have a better chance of seeing it.  Sonar is the only way to know where your bait is in relation to the fish.  The FLX-28 that many anglers employ allows ice anglers to zero in on a particular zone, which is a huge help in determining fish and lure location.

When it comes to fishing, there are no guarantees, but if you keep the above ideas in mind, you’ll improve your odds for getting bit through the ice.

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