By Jeff Gustafson
I hate to admit it because I love ice fishing, but I don’t get to do it as much as I used to. I’m fortunate that I get to hook up my boat, usually before the end of January and head south to start my tournament season on the Bassmaster Elite Series. In the early 2000’s, after I finished school and guiding was my way to make a living, I was on the ice a bunch and I fished for everything.
Walleyes were always my favourite because I spend most of my time fishing the north end of Lake of the Woods, walleye paradise, but we also have some of the best multi-species options available anywhere. We have crappies, lake trout, whitefish, pike, burbot and perch all with easy access. On a beautiful late March day several years ago I actually managed to catch all of these different species in the same day, all on a Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon!
Of all of the above mentioned species, I have tricked plenty of each on the Buck-Shot Spoon, in my opinion – the best ice fishing lure I have ever tied on the end of my line. I’m not saying it’s the best bait ever for each of these species but it catches them all. It’s hard to beat a pearl tube for lake trout, a Predator Rig under a tip-up for pike or a finesse jig tipped with plastic for crappies but it would be hard to argue a better all-around bait for perch, walleye and whitefish. They are suckers for these spoons.
When it comes to choosing a Buck-Shot Spoon, we’ll try to keep it simple. If you’re on good water for perch and walleyes and want to catch a bunch of fish, tie on a ¼ oz spoon. I have caught fish on every colour over the years but my top three are probably Super-Glo Goldfish (especially on LOTW, where gold is always good!), Super-Glo Perch and Pink Tiger (one of the newer UV colours).
If I’m on big walleye water or I’m looking to trick a lake trout, I might move up to the 3/8 or ½ oz spoon. Super-Glo Rainbow is a killer on lakers. If I’m after whitefish, I’ll go to a smaller 1/8 oz spoon. They usually aren’t too picky on the colour but if I was going to pick one I’d go with Silver Shiner. You can catch whitefish on the bigger spoons but they have a really small mouth so the smaller spoon will just hook more fish.
I always fish my spoons for perch and walleye on 8 lb braid, with a 6 lb. Fluorosilk leader. If I’m hunting big fish I might fish heavier line but I’ve landed plenty of big fish on that set up. I always tip my Buck-Shot with a minnow head to add a little bit of natural scent and that’s really all you need to know. Get it down on the bottom, make some noise with it and call the fish in!
Over the recent holidays I was looking at old photos and that’s what triggered me to write this – year after year I have pictures with big walleye as well as other species with a Buck-Shot Spoon tied on the end of my line. There have been plenty of other great ice baits come along over the years but I just like to catch fish to much so I have a hard time even experimenting with anything else.
The new Glo-Shot Fire-Belly Spoon features the same profile as the Buck-Shot, with a glowing stick in the center of it instead of a rattle chamber. It is a new look on a productive bait that has been effective for me as another option, especially on pressured community spots. When we tested the first models of these spoons last winter, they simply caught fish so when you’re adding a few more Buck-Shot Spoons to your tackle box, maybe include a couple of Glo-Shot Fire-Belly Spoons as well!