Fishing beneath hard water is usually panfishing, mixing in a few pike and walleye here and there. But if you want those big walleye and pike, don’t overlook BIG & LOUD rattling baits to drop in the ice hole. Here’s a few tips for catching big fish through the ice.
Blades of Steel
Ice Season can be a great time to target big walleyes, pike, and other top predators. A good way to pick off active fish is to use a jigging spoon or blade bait, subtly ripping it off the bottom with a consistent jigging approach lifting the bait through the water column. The biggest and baddest fish are likely to key in on the loud disturbance your presentation is providing.
This technique works especially well in murky water, or when there is snow covered ice. This technique is not for tough biting, high pressure days but if you’re fishing during a good window, try this technique to really maximize your day on the ice.
How They Work
Vibrating baits are a perfect tool for covering water and exploring new holes. It’s the type of bait you can drop right into a hole to see if the fish is in an aggressive mood. In open water. As far as technique goes, I like to use a ‘ripping’ action when fishing a blade bait in open water. However, during the ice season I’ve found a more subtle movement works best.
Try working your bait with action so soft you can barely feel the vibrating ticks. The slower cadence will likely be the ticket. Keep in mind that a preferred cadence can change with the time, conditions, or fishing pressure so be sure to play around with the action to see which works best for you.
Stick and Move
Once you get on a good blade bait bite, remember to move constantly to target big active fish. If fish are hammering it on one end of the lake, chances are they will in similar areas too, so instead of sitting on the same hole, move around and see what’s out there. You can always go back to a hot hole if your adventure fails to produce.
Another advantage to a loud rattling bait is its fish calling ability, and the loud disturbance from the baits inherent action. The action piques the interest of fish through their lateral lines which sparks enough interest for a potential easy meal.
Call Them In
Another good idea is to set a ‘dead stick’ rod with live bait near or around your jigging hole. When the bite is tough and you need a few extra fish, try calling the fish in with the jigging spoon while still presenting a more subtle, natural bait option. Shiners, fatheads or small suckers are my live bait favorites. This powerpack combo can really get fish firing and make for a memorable day on the ice.
No matter where you’re fishing, always remember ice fishing safety conditions can change at a moment’s notice, so it’s important to make sure you have a backup plan in case things go south. I try to always fish with a partner and make sure to let someone know where we’re fishing and when we’ll be back. Good luck on the hard water this season, stay dry!
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