How To

Tips for Mid-season Ice Fishing

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Ice expert Blake Anderson with a mid-season perch.

Ice expert Blake Anderson with a mid-season perch.

The middle part of the ice-fishing season will soon be here. As such, there are things we do in the middle of the season that we don’t do earlier in the year. For more fishing success in the next few weeks, keep these ideas in mind.

I was fishing for perch through the ice last year in South Dakota with Blake and Taylor Anderson. These guys are as sharp as it gets when it comes to ice fishing. The perch seemed to be kind of spooky at mid-day. We could see numbers of perch on the bottom with our sonar, and we were catching them regularly, but Blake and Taylor were catching them more regularly than I was. Here’s why: I wasn’t keeping any perch that day, and I was releasing them right away.

When Blake or Taylor caught a perch and there were other ones down there, before releasing the perch they would drop their bait down the hole and let it get close to the bottom. Then they would release the perch. It seemed like the perch on the bottom paid attention to the bait and not the perch that had just been released. It kept them from spooking. Is this giving the fish too much credit for being smart? I don’t know—but I do know that when I started putting my bait down the hole before letting the perch go my catching improved.

If they’re not eating the bait you’re showing them, show them something else. However, showing them something else doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change baits, you might just need to change the way you’re presenting the bait.

For instance, let’s say you’re fishing walleyes and you are using a Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon. You can see on your depth finder that fish are coming in and looking at the bait, but they’re not eating it. Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons are about as good a bait as you can use for walleyes and perch. In fact, for many anglers, this spoon is their go-to bait.

But sometimes the fish want the bait presented in a certain way. Sometimes they want it fished very slowly, with just slight jiggles.

Other times they want it moved more aggressively. So, if they won’t eat it the way you’re moving it, move it differently.

If you try different jigging actions and nothing works, it’s time for more drastic measures. If they were looking at the spoon, that’s at least an indication they’re interested. Try a similar spoon in a different color or size. Often times when the fish are being selective, a different color or size will get them to eat. Usually it works best to go to a smaller size for finicky fish.

If that doesn’t work, a complete overhaul is needed. A plain hook and split-shot under a slip-bobber might will get the job done. This is a pretty bare-bones presentation, and sometimes that’s what it takes to get the fish to eat.

Keep these ice fishing ideas in mind and you’re sure to catch more fish through the ice.

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Image courtesy Bob Jensen

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