In many areas where anglers fish through the ice this time of year, we are at about midway through the season. Most lakes have a good cover of ice as well as some snow. We also have cold weather, and lots of it. There are a number of things anglers can do to catch more fish through the ice this time of year, but you’ve got to go fishing to catch’em. That sounds pretty simplistic, but considering that being cold isn’t fun for most people, they don’t go fishing when it’s too cold. With today’s clothing options, however, you don’t need to be cold. Dress appropriately and get out there.
Some people like to fish from the warmth of a fish house. Some of the fish houses available today are really nice and fun to fish from. They have a television, a kitchen, comfortable chairs, and, best of all, they’re warm—you can fish in shirtsleeves. If that’s your style of fishing, wonderful. Enjoy it with a group of fishing partners that you like spending time with, and you’re going to have a wonderful day on the ice.
The problem with fishing from a house like that is that you’ve got to wait for the fish to come to you. Some anglers prefer to go to the fish. They pop a bunch of holes in the ice, get their sonar unit and a rod with a spoon, and start visiting each hole. If you don’t see a fish on the sonar unit, keep moving until you do find one (or more).
Remember that you’ll only see fish that are in the cone angle of your transducer. If you’re using a 20-degree transducer, you’ll be able to see an area about one-third of the depth. In 20 feet of water, for example, you’ll see an area of about seven feet. But there could be a fish a few feet outside that area that you don’t see. Here’s how to draw it to your bait.
“Pounding” is a technique that many successful anglers use to attract a perch or walleye to their bait. You simply lift and drop your spoon so it “pounds” the bottom. When the spoon hits the bottom, it kicks up a little cloud of dust which attracts fish to your spoon. If you “pound” your spoon a while and nothing shows up, find another hole to “pound.” Eventually the fish will show up.
Once you have some fish below you that are willing to bite, stop your spoon well above the bottom. Try to determine how far up the fish will come to take your bait. If you drop the spoon all the way to the bottom into a bunch of fish and catch a couple of fish from that group, the others will spook. If you keep the spoon above the fish and catch the ones that move up to it, the others won’t spook as quickly. You’ll catch more fish per hole.
When the bite is on, you want to fish fast. Catch a fish and get your bait back down there while they’re still around and willing to bite. Impulse plastic baits enable you to fish faster because you’re not re-baiting as much as you would with live bait.
So, get a pair of warm boots and get on the ice. Keep moving until you find the fish and you can find some hot action even when it’s cold outside.
To read some more mid-season ice fishing tips from Bob Jensen, click here.