Jigging, twitching, rocking, and coasting are descriptives of the movements an ice angler instills into the bait while ice fishing through a 8"-12" platform (fancy term for hole in the ice). Not alot of wiggle room in the old ice hole to create horizontal movement which can be extremely important in the realm of ice fishing with microscopic baits--especially when your talkin' panfish. That's where the triggering tactic --"the figure eight" -- which is used to trigger muskies at boat side-- can come in handy while ice fishing.
I'm guessing that 95% of most ice anglers use some form of verticle movement when trying to trigger a strike from a non-commited panfish, or walleye, or bass, or... you get my drift. They are ultimately forgetting about the obvious--horizontal movement. I am not sure why more anglers do not try to immitate horizontal movements through the ice--no matter how small the movements are. It's another one of those small details that will catch more fish. Turn back the clock a few years. Jigging Rapalas and airplane jigs are a common example of the effectiveness of horizontal movement under the ice. Using a "figure 8" pattern in the hole can put a bunch of bonus fish on the ice when using just about any ice fishing bait. Heck, why is everyone buying the horizontal hanging baits that work so well but only moving them vertically? Hmmm, ooops.
I typically will start out using a variety of verticle movements with the bait and catch the most aggressive fish first. After the bite slows a bit ( I have already caught the most aggressive fish ), I begin to key on the other fish (that are still there either visually or via Vexilar) that are not as aggressive and need a little more persuassion. I start to move the bait around the edged of the hole in a circle pattern and then ease into a full fledged "figure 8" pattern (I'm not using a bobber by the way). I have found that using a slower horizontal speed works the best probably because there is a lag time or pendulum effect from the rod tip to the actuall movement of the bait. The shallower you are fishing (less line out), the shorter the lag time is and visa versa. I have caught some of my biggest bull 'gills, perch and walleyes using this simple switch-up. If ya think about it, the majority of the baitfish population in a body of water is moving horizontally at any given time so why shouldnt you?
Short but sweet and something to think about, give it a shot the next time you hit the ice, if anything, it's good conversation and your fishing partner will probably laugh at the idea--until that fish start to pile up. Good Luck, Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com
Last Saturday I spent six hours on three different lakes "looking" for a "hot" shallow water crappie/bluegill bite that my customers could benefit from. My helpers were my eager seven and nine year old boys geared up with their polarized fishing glasses. The lesson of the day was: find fish first..and then fish. It amazes me how many anglers simply throw the anchor without doing any research first and wait...and wait...and wait--for possibly nothing. For my boat, its find a likely looking area in the shallows, putting down the bow mount and trolling through the shallows looking for large pods of fish using my Maui Jims. Works like a charm too.
I think the boys where more excited to look at the fish than to catch them. Only once did the younger boy ask when we were going to fish. It was then that the older boy chimed in "we have to find them first" --Good answer. After spotting numerous northern pike, bass, and only a few small groups of 'gills, it was apparent the first lake I chose wasn't going to happen. We basically looked for 30 minutes, fished for 10 minutes, and then left for lake number two.
When we arrived at lake number two, the same process began with many pods of active fish being located. A nice mix of Crappies and Sunfish. My rule is to find 3 seperate pods in different locations before we start to fish--that way I have a plan A,B,and C, -- in case the wind changes, another boat moves in too close and ruins the bite, and or we catch all of the active fish out of one pod--things like that. After a couple of more groups of fish were located, the fun began. We must have caught 60-70 fish the first hour between the 3 of us. It was then that I had to remind the boys that we were "scouting for spots", so we brought up the anchor and headed to lake number three...only to start all over again. They were actually excited to see if we could find even a better spot!--See how this works, they did not start to complain about having to leave, because they have already learned that a better bite can always be found somewhere.
At lake number three, we did find a better bite full of bigger fish. It was a perfect six hour lesson for the boys and a successful scouting mission for the guide service. The boys learned to always keep looking for a better spot/bite, that changing lakes can make a big difference (even if water temps are the same), and most importantly--find the fish before you start to fish for them--even if its simply using your polarized fishing glasses, the trolling motor, and some stealth. Good Luck, Capt. Josh, Minnesota Fishing Guide Service. www.minnesotaguideservice.com
It's hard to believe I was standing on the ice in a black t-shirt thinking about taking it off because of the heat. With 12" of ice left on the small lake my boys and I were standing on (actually lost 3" since Monday), 10" was solid, the top two inches--Junk. But still plenty to walk on. Plus the fish are hittin' good just under the ice.
It's as easy as waiting for the kids to get off the bus at 2:30 and hittiing the ice at 3:00 for a couple of hours. And man have we caught some nice fish including some 11 inch gills and 15 inch crappies which have all been released. Using what? And Where? Basically, a small chartreuse/oragne Genz Bug tipped with a waxie while doing a little hole hopping between a dozen or so holes. What depth? Seven feet with old weeds, approximately four to five feet below the surface with some of the fish only 3 ft down cruising under the ice. With the ultra clear water, it's easy to look down the hole and see the fish swimming below. What about the dusk bite? Im sure it's good, but that's bed time, so that has to wait. Bummer.
My theory anyway is if you can catch them during the day, why fish at night? Most of my fishing clients are day time anglers anyway, so I practice my skills during normal business hours. But I do have to admit, fishing at dusk is killer and quite fun for that short window of opportunity. Anyway, hope to get out on the ice a few more times this week, and then I will have to drive north a few hours and then...boat. What a short winter. For updates, pics, fishing info, and guide trip results/stories throughout the summer, follow Minnesota Fishing Guide Service on www.facebook.com and or www.twitter.com (MN.Fishing Guide @MNFishingGuide) throughout the season. GoodLuck, Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com
People often ask me what my favorite fishing lake is. And every time I have to think about the dozens of favorites I have and quickly process why I covet my choices so I can give a straight answer. Typically, I first begin to think of the various areas of the state which I fish on a weekly basis. These areas consist of the Gull Lake area, the Leech Lake/ Park Rapids area, the Ottertail Lake area and of course the St. Cloud/ Alexandria Lakes area. Yes--I do get around, about 20,000 miles worth pulling a boat each summer. Anyone wanna buy a GMC suburban? Anyway, all of these areas employ my skills in order to help others create "fishing memories" or "trips of a life time". But there is another lake/area that is dear to my heart-- Rainy Lake. And I can't get there enough.
The first thought that comes to mind when I think of Rainy Lake is the awsome fishing. My next series of thoughts include great north woods scenery--the towering pines (and the smell of pine), gorgeous rock formations, endless protected bays and coves, large expanses of water just waiting to be explored, and of course the numerous sightings of black bear, deer, grouse, bald eagles, and even moose. I then immediatley reflect on the many dozens of trips to Canada and I come to the conclusion that there really isn't much of a difference between Canadian fishing and Rainy Lake fishing --as far as an easy "drive in fishing" trip is concerned. Not to mention, it's much more affordable, no border/passport hassles, etc etc. Now granted, Rainy does reach into Canada, but I am mainly referring to the Minnesota side of the Lake.
One of the most angler friendly features of Rainy Lake (verses other large bodies of water ((like the Minnesota side Lake Of The Woods)) is the endless amount of quality fishing spots found in wind protected areas of the lake. What I mean is, the odds of wasting half of your fishing trip getting "blown off" the lake due to wind is very very small. Another positive of Rainy is that the lake seems to have far less boat traffic/ crowds etc because of the large amount of "fishing spots" distributing the boats all over the lake. There have been many trips to Rainy in which I have fished all day and hardly even spotted another boat navigating anywhere. I know that's hard to believe, but it's true--no motor noises or wakes rocking the boat all day! And talk about the fishing--it's as good as it gets.
With basically the same fishing regulations/slots as Lake Of The Woods, the fishing on Rainy Lake in my opinion in fish caught per hour (with the effort factor in mind)--is just as good--if not better! Traditional fishing techniques (jigging/rigging) will fill the live well every time. And plan on catching a ton of 20"-26" walleyes in between the "eaters". Planning a shore lunch? Don't worry--you'll catch it. In other words--leave the hot dogs at home. What about lodging? That's covered.
There is no "resort row". To my knowledge ( I may be wrong, and I'm not counting the house boats) there are only three resorts/lodges on the American side of the entire lake--that's one of the reasons the fishing pressure is so low per acre. The three resorts I am most familiar with are: Island View Lodge, The Thunderbird, and Sha-Sha (pronounced "shay shay"). My personal favorite is Island View Lodge for a variety of reasons. The location is awesome and like the name says--it has one of the best views of a Minnesota lake to be found. Ya gotta be there!
In short, if you are looking for the Canadian "up North feel" fishing trip with the Canadian style fishing available to any angler, stay in Minnesota, and find your own secret fishing spot-- Rainy Lake. Rainy Lake is a good option for you! P.S. don't forget the endless supply of 40" pike along the way. Good Luck, Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com
It never fails, I get a new boat, I sell the Vexilars with the old boat, and I want to install some new Vexilar flashers on either end of the new boat to use as one of my primary "fish finders". Then comes the fun part--trying to find the model I need/want after the ice melts. Why is that such a problem? I thank the ice fishing industry for that.
Believe it or not, unless I order the unit(s) from somewhere, I cannot simply go down to the sporting goods store and pick one up, or even find some of the accessories--because as I'm told by the sales people "they will be back in stock for ice fishing in the Fall". And then they look at me as if Im crazy for using a Vexilar on a boat!
What?! Are you kidding me? This is coming from "big name" stores by the way. (makes me want to get a job at a sporting goods store to really help people get what they need) Then the search begins, I start calling all of the "normal big name places" -I will not name. After 12 phone calls, I will order what I need from Vexilar directly or some small private suppliers I know. In other situations, I will find the actual flasher, but no high speed transducers--only "pucks" for ice fishing. I have even been asked why I need a high speed "ducer" for ice fishing--and these are the supposed "pros" working in the electronics dept. giving advice to novice anglers? Hmmm. Reminds me of the time I asked for a "flippin stick" and the guy handed me a 5'4" jerk bait rod. Hmmm. (again, I should get a job in the fishing dept)
Before ice fishing with flashers, they were used on boats. To this day I utilize my Vexilar flasher in the boat to find any fish, at any depth, and at any speed to great accuracy. Yes, I have a graph, but my eyes are glued to the flasher for the simple reason of the instant readings I get when I am searching or mapping out an area to fish--with no delay that comes with any graph type of unit. The graph is also on, in case I am looking some where and miss a mark on the flasher--that's where the delay is handy--its still on the screen. And ofcourse there are countless situations where the graph is needed for a better interpretation of what is below the boat. So why can I purchase a graph during the winter months but I cannot purchase a Vexilar flasher off the shelf during the open water season that's not an "ice fishing" package? Because, "they will be back in stock for ice fishing in the Fall"
Oops, gotta go, Speedy Delivery just arrived with my 2 power cables for my spare FL-12's I had to order because nobody in St. Cloud ...or Rodgers carries them. HUH? Good Luck! Capt. Josh www.minnesotaguideservice.com