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By Gary Roach
One of the things about ice fishing that never changes is the approach you have to use. It's always going to be vertical. It's impossible to troll through a six to ten inch hole. You can cast I guess, but once the lure hits the opening it's still going to drop straight down, although when you think about it, you could get pretty accurate for theopen-water period. No matter how you look at it, ice fishing means vertical jigging. With that in mind let's look at the variables. Location, lure choice, lure color, action of bait, these and other things might affect your ability to catch fish.
A good example is line. I'm using the two-pound test diameter Fireline for ice fishing because it is very sensitive. I have yet to sense that the high-visibility of the line has caused fish to pass up my offering. Not to say that this wouldn't happen. I'm prepared with some four-pound test XL green and some six-pound test Ultra-Thin just in case.
Location is a big factor in ice fishing. You can't catch fish if they aren't there. And I have found it doesn't pay to wait for them to arrive. Drill a lot of holes and use a good sonar to locate fish and work them with different combinations until they either start biting or they force you to keep looking.
Lure choice is totally dependent on one thing. How aggressive are the
I find color to be important. The water is usually much clearer in the winter and colors tend to be more visible at greater depths. If you have fish swimming up to the bait and just looking at it no matter what kind of action you're using, try changing colors.
One time I was fishing perch up at on Lake Winnibigoshish and they were hitting an orange FireEye Minnows. All of a sudden I noticed the fish quit biting even thought they were still on the sonar screen. What happened is the clouds blew over, the sun was shining, and the fish became slightly negative to that color. I tied on a green and chartreuse FireEye and they started biting again.
The action you impart to the bait is critical. In a cold-water situation fish aren't going to chase and charge after a lure. They're going to swim up, look the bait over, sniff it a couple of times, maybe even take a little taste before committing. If the bait is being jigged and hopped and popped two feet up and down non-stop, forget catching any fish.
Not to say you don't want to use a hard jigging approach to attract fish. It's just that once you get the fish to the bait, let the bait rest and give the fish an opportunity to look the bait over, sniff it a couple of times, maybe even take a little taste before committing. Once the fish committs invite it to join you above the ice for a shor conversation about what's on the menu for later.
Noise can be a big factor whan ice fishing. All that stomping and clomping around on the ice can spook fish, even deep fish when they're in a nuetral mode. Don't decrease your chances to catch fish by forgetting to take the noise factor into account.
One of the great things about ice fishing is it forces anglers
to work a small area
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