Like any good mechanic will tell you, the proper tools always help you get the job done in the most efficient and trouble-free manner. And, when it comes to ice fishing, it’s easy to be amazed or even a bit overwhelmed with the pile of new tools that are now available to help us catch more fish.
The subject matter I write about has always had a strong focus on education, whether it be about fish location and behavior or in presentations and the associated lures used to elicit a positive response. I would like to continue on with that theme and implore some of you (probably the majority of you) to self-educate yourselves.
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.
It’s official-winter is now upon us. Time to think positive, as the days will start getting longer and best of all we have ice! Deer season is over, the ducks have followed the retired folks south, and you should have shot your fill of pheasants by now. As a sportsman there is but one pursuit to focus on and that is of course, ice fishing.
Last month I began a discussion on developing a wish list for some great new products to put to use this Ice Fishing season. Christmas is coming and I will expand upon this and give you enough time to drop some not so subtle hints and make yourself “not that hard to shop for.”
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.
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.
First ice brings months of anticipation — better yet, anxiety — even long before the first leaf slowly tumbles down in early fall. But as good as early ice-fishing always is here in the Dakotas, I can honestly say that the urgency of what awaits us as we drift from the common doldrums of midwinter into the late- to last-ice periods can easily override even the best days that we have enjoyed to date.
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.
By skinny, I am referring to depth of water. The contradicting term fat, corresponds to the oversized mature fish you will often find in the form of dominant predators, such as Pike, Bass, and Walleye’s-in Northern latitudes. Just enough water to float a fish, will keep them perfectly content-and even more so-when there is a security blanket of ice directly above them.
If you are like most anglers, you have not given much consideration to incorporating artificial bait alternatives in lieu of live bait. Berkley’s numerous offerings in their PowerBait and Gulp! lines being the most accepted. This reluctance is nearly universal when it comes to ice fisherman. A few of you may have used some for a very brief time, lost confidence in it and reverted to your old standby’s of live bait. Too bad, because you’re limiting yourself and ultimately your rate of success by doing so.