Ice fishing is good in early morning, late evening
We have had another great week of ice producing weather for our area lakes. Ice fishing is in full swing and most lakes are close to 12 inches or more of good clear ice. You will be able to travel on the smaller lakes with light vehicles this week. Larger pickups should be good to go by Christmas on most of the bodies of water in our area. As always, check ice conditions before venturing out onto the lakes.
The early ice bite has been very good across our whole region. The early morning and later evening bite continues to be the best bite times right now. When we eventually get some snow cover on the lakes, bite times will change some and anglers may find more active fish during all hours of the day.
One nice option we have during the ice fishing season is the chance to fish two lines per person. This lets us try one subtle, and one aggressive strategy to contact fish. Once you contact fish you can adjust for the style that is producing best for you and your partners.
For the aggressive style, jigging with jigs or spoons can trigger bites or bring fish into the area so that the subtle presentations have a chance to produce. It can be helpful to change up your cadence when using your jigging to trigger fish. Sometimes the fish will hit on the pause between aggressive jig strokes, at times they make take the presentation as it is falling. Slowing down with a simple lift and drop will sometimes trigger the reaction. Pay attention to what you were doing when you got the bite or caught the fish. If someone in your party is doing well compared to others, match not only the jig or spoon they are using, but the jig stroke they are having success with. Find out if they are inches from the bottom, or two feet off the bottom. It is good to repeat what is working.
Subtle styles include fishing under a bobber or using a tip-up to present a bait. Most times you will be fishing a minnow on a plain hook or jig with this presentation. Here the keys to success will be jig type and color, minnow type, and location of the bait in relationship to the bottom. Most times you will want your bait to be swimming like a wounded minnow anywhere from a few inches off the bottom to about a foot and a half. Several ways to set the depth will be to use your locator, the use of a clip on weight, or using a camera if conditions allow. One problem with using a locator can be the target separation ability of your unit. The use on a clip weight can let you know exactly were the bottom is. Having a bobber stop on the line can then allow you to mark the water line. Slide the stop however many inches off the bottom you want to try will now give you an exact distance off bottom. This then becomes easy to repeat with other subtle rigs you are using.
Changing and adjusting can always help make a difference between fishing and catching. Sometimes, no matter what you do, it will be just fishing. The experience of the catching days will draw us back to try again.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)