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Iced Up ‘Eyes By Sam Anderson
The "mood" of the fish (aggressive, neutral, negative) is a major consideration
in successful ice fishing. Good ice fisherman will find a way to trigger
neutral fish into biting. The best of them can trigger some negative fish
into biting. Jigging walleyes is the most deadly method of all, if done
properly. Proper size, color selection and action all come into play.
Early season fishing I like to use a Jigging
in chartreuse or silver and black and this past year I really liked using
the rainbow trout color. I also spend a little extra time and put
on the next size bigger treble hook. This additional size hook allows
me to put the head of a fathead minnow on and still have plenty of
play in the hook to jig a natural action and increase hookups with additional
space between the
shank and the barb of the hook. It is a good idea to keep your jigging
action down to a minimum. But, you also have to respond to the mood
of the fish. If I find that the fish prefer to have a tempting morsel
just quivered in front of their face then I will do that. Other times
the fish might be attracted to the jig slamming into the sand and making
a "plume action" that stirs up the floor of the lake. When the Genz Worm
is on the bottom, impart a tapping movement to your rod. This causes the
lure to "stir up" the bottom. Then raise the Genz Worm slightly. This works
best on mud flats where the rising mud plume imitates natural baits, attracts
fish, and triggers strikes. The constant jigging or jiggling will keep
the lure from spinning. If allowed to merely hang, line twist will impart
unnatural spin to the lure. This is usually a method when you
are fishing transitional areas where sand meets rock or mud. Jigging action
combined with sound of rattles has also been a new
innovative method that has really worked well. For this I will
put on a Rattling Hooker from
Tackle. This added sound and vibration many times attracts fish when
they are turned off with other bait presentations. Always remember
these walleyes want an easy meal.
Light conditions and weather are two over looked aspects of early ice
fishing. Weather and time of day affect walleye activity in winter
much the same way they do at other times of the year. As you probably
already know, in the summer time most walleyes feed during low light
conditions. The light gathering qualities of the walleyes eyes are
far superior to that of the baitfish they prey upon. Naturally the
walleyes use this as an advantage and feed during the dim light periods.
Likewise, during overcast days they tend to bite more than during high
skies and bright sunshine.
Weather is just as much a factor as it is in the summer time.
When a storm is hitting the surface of the frozen lake the fish will turn
off and usually will go through a "cold front" condition after the storm
stops. The walleye likes to feed during stable weather and if
you are planning that early ice-time walleye trip check the weather before
and during your stay. Sometimes the approach of a winter storm will
trigger a feeding frenzy because of the advancement of low light conditions.
Fish small lakes at the beginning of the ice fishing season and move to
larger lakes later in the ice fishing season. This is governed by oxygen
in the water. In addition, smaller lakes freeze sooner thus extending
your ice fishing season. By far the best winter angling on Mille
Lacs, Lake of the Woods, Rainy, Leech and countless other Minnesota lakes
occurs from first ice through mid to late January. Fall is a great time
to "pre-fish" for ice fishing spots. Use your electronics to locate concentrations
of suspended fish they'll usually be there later-under the ice. On larger
bodies of water use your GPS to mark these spots. A GPS is useful for marking
spots that you might not return to for some time. As ice fishing guru Dave
Genz has said many times. Ice fishermen have to continue "thinking fish"
during the winter season. Don't put your "fishing knowledge" away with
your boat in the fall. Most summer
fishermen have progressed beyond their grandparent's ways of fishing,
however, many of them revert back to their grandparent's ways of ice fishing
when they get on the ice. Following these suggestions and jigging more
next time you hit that frozen lake will help with success on iced up walleyes.
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