Intelligent ice anglers are having success combining traditional live bait
tactics with the use of realistic artificial lures
Jeff Gustafson and Mandy
Times are a changin'. Used to be when we went ice fishing, our presentation
always included a jig tipped with some type of minnow or hunk of meat, no matter
what species of fish we were targeting. As the fishing tackle industry has grown,
companies have found ways to make better baits that work in all seasons for
all species of fish.
Today, ice anglers can use a blended approach, combining live bait tactics
with artificial applications. Maybe work a soft plastic swimming lure in one
hole while monitoring a live minnow and bobber in another. And all this while
a nearby tip-up deploys yet another minnow, likely something larger. The options
The following are a few jigging and rigging techniques using artificial lures
that have proved effective used in conjunction with a live bait program.
Dropper Rigging Stocked Trout
Brookies, rainbows, splake and the like are all suckers for aggressive presentations
during the ice months. These fish are very inquisitive and can be called in
from long distances. The thing is, they can be picky about what they eat so
give them a 1-2 punch by using a dropper rig. The rig consists of a spoon with
the treble hook removed and in its place a short 3-5 inch section of monofilament
is attached leading to a small ice fly, like the feathered Spider
Ant or new Scud
Bug from Bro’s Bug Collection. When jigged aggressively, the spoon
will dance, while the small jig pulsates and beckons these stocked beauties
to bite. This rig is especially effective early in the season when these fish
are in their most aggressive state.
Brian "Bro" Brosdahl
Bug Up Perch
Our lakes are alive in winter with bottom hugging larvae, bloodworms and crustaceans.
All species of fish exploit these tasty offering but none take advantage of the
potential feeding frenzy like perch do. Much of this action takes place in the
mud-bottomed basins on the lakes we fish and this is the best place to find massive
schools of perch. Ice fishing guru, Brian “Bro” Brosdahl has designed
a series of specialty jigs and soft plastic tails for Northland Fishing Tackle
that are effective on all panfish, perch included. I used some of these jigs last
season for perch and lit them up using a technique that Bro taught me. “Bro's
is a new jig that has a “fat-head” that anglers can shake and bounce
in the mud to imitate hatches coming out of the bottom. Tip this jig with one
of the new plastic tails – like the Bloodworm,
– and you have an offering that perch flip over.
Spoons are available in all shapes and sizes from various manufacturers and
they catch walleyes throughout the winter. In fact, I fish spoons almost exclusively
for walleyes during the winter months. Spoons are good because they have superb
attracting abilities and can call fish in from a long range. They can also be
shaken lightly to entice “lookers” that are in close range to bite.
I just about always fish a Northland Buckshot Rattle Spoon and use a “jerk, jerk, shake” cadence. I'll jig
the spoon more furiously if flasher screen is bare and then begin jigging softer
sequences when fish appear. One last “triggering” trick to make
lookers turn into biters is to slowly jig your bait and lift your rod at the
same time, making the bait rise in the water column. Walleyes are more likely
to commit to if they get teased up off the bottom a bit.
Everybody knows that lake trout are suckers for plastic, minnow imitating baits
like tubes and jerk shads. They catch fish on a consistent basis and have for
years. A trend for winter trout fishing is working baits that trigger bass during
the open water season. One of the hottest new styles of baits in this category
are swimbaits. Gaining popularity for largemouth bass in California, they are
now being used by bass anglers all over North America. If you haven't used them
for lake trout, you're missing out. The Slurpies
Swim Shiner is a great example, Silver Shiner and Emerald Shiner being a
couple of the hottest colors. The key is to keep it moving. I will jig these
baits in 3-5 foot lifts and cover the entire water column. You will call in
big fish while showing them something they probably haven't seen before.
The key with artificial baits is to use them to call fish in to your presentation.
If you can do this, there is always a high percentage of fish, no matter what
species you are targeting, that will bite. Spend some time this winter using
artificial baits in tandem with typical live bait techniques and you will see
your catches improve. Every time you do something different than the norm, you
learn something and in the end this will make you a much better all-round angler.
Posted on Tue, November 3, 2009
by Jeff Gustafson filed under