If you haven’ been closely following the rapid advancements taking place in modern Ice Fishing, you owe it to yourself to check out just what has been happening. And if you have, you are most likely just as impressed and thankful for it as I am. A couple of words have been bantered around quite a bit concerning the drastic changes we have seen developing over the last 20 years and have continued to grow at an ever increasing pace the last ten years to flat out phenomenal change the last 5 years.
As we near the end of the Hardwater Season, (from late February till Ice Out) we’ve typically experienced: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The good being at first ice when Walleye’s are generally conducive to biting and the results are favorable for numbers, with a few good fish mixed in.
As we enter the early stages of yet another hardwater (ice) fishing season; many of us with a curious and experimental nature begin to ponder new and improved ways in which to put our intended quarry on the sunny side of the ice. Our thoughts quickly turn to finding a “hot” lure to help us with this quest. Unfortunately, these are truly hard to come by.
Although the calendar has indicated Spring for some time; after a couple of false starts- (warm weather followed by unwelcome blizzards)-it looks as though old man winter may be finally loosening his steely cold grip on us. With warming winds, the air filled with the sounds of geese, and robins bouncing around…it looks as though we can officially declare Spring’s arrival.
It’s now time to drag out all of our ice fishing gear and put some serious thought into what goodies you need to add to your arsenal. Be sure to jot down a list of what you just can’t do without; and conspicuously leave it lying around the house as a not so subtle Christmas wish list. With that in mind, I’ll list some of the most notable new equipment for this year.
As we begin to enter the months of January and February; the Walleye bite tends to become a bit spotty at best. The initial willful abandon that the fish show at first ice is long gone. This is due to the fact that they are no longer on a feeding binge, in preparation for the long winter.
In a previous column, I tried to emphasize just how vital it is to “hunt” fish with the assistance of high quality electronics. Notice I do not use the word depth finder, as what we have available today is so much more. In reality, the top shelf units are truly multifunctional units…offering sophisticated and highly sensitive sonar, combined with amazingly accurate GPS capabilities, overlaid on detailed background maps.
Crawlers and walleyes go together like cookies and milk, but rigging a worm right isn’t as intuitive as you might guess. What you’ve been doing with crawlers may be timeless and proven, maybe a spinner harness on a bottom bouncer or as part of a trolling spread. Or maybe you prefer nose-hooking a fat crawler behind a slipsinker and letting it dance across complex structure. How about a Slow Death Hook and half a crawler.
As we begin to enter the second half of the hard-water fishing season-and in my mind at least, the better half-we’ve experienced both good and bad. The good part being, we had favorable ice conditions form early on this year, and as is often the case-made for some fine fishing opportunities.
For Ice Fisherman, once the calendar rolls over to a new year, we begin to enter what most would could consider the mid-ice period of our ice fishing season. Maybe just a little earlier or later, depending upon what part of the country you live in; but nonetheless having a reputation for the fishing becoming a bit tougher than at first ice.
One of the distinct benefits of being an outdoor writer and involved in the fishing side of the industry, is being exposed to a lot of the latest lure and gear offerings. I’m fortunate to be called on to field test and evaluate prototypes before they’re available to the angling public.
For a fish that draws so much attention during the ice fishing season, the yellow perch is largely ignored come early spring. Once the ice is off and the states with closed seasons open, walleye mania hits the north country hard and most anglers develop a laser focus on the perch’s larger and at least this time of year’s more sought after cousin.
Many of our thoughts are now turning to the Open Water Season. This means reviewing our Tackle and Equipment needs.
There hasn’t been anything particularly noteworthy in the Terminal Tackle department for sometime. Maybe a new twist here and there and some flashy new colors; that in general do a better job of getting us to open our wallets then they do a fish opening their mouths. Nonetheless, it is still great fun acquiring the newest offerings. After all, any true fisherman is just a kid at heart.
This task, to say the least, can be overwhelming given the choices available. Looking over the vast selection of models, colors, and sizes at most bait shops can cause decision overload. By following a few simple guidelines, you can narrow your search to 3 basic categories and some standard colors.