Gary Roach with Lake Winne walleye.

Gary Roach with Lake Winne walleye.

Watching a 6-pound northern pike move up on a jig/minnow and then flare his gills to inhale it, has got to be one of the big attractions to ice fishing from a spearing shack.  The darkness of the windowless spearing shake makes the water beneath the ice light and clear.

Here on Lake Winnibigoshish in northern Minnesota the long fish moves along the bottom and then lays still.  We look down into the water but have trouble seeing it.  It is there because the electronics say he is there.

Suddenly we can see him as he flares those gills and the minnow disappears into his monstrous mouth.  A quick yank of the line and he is hooked.

The fish thrashes back and forth under us flaring his gills in a vain attempt to spit out the hook that came with the minnow.  No use as he is well hooked and will grace the dinner table this evening.

Ice fishing is a relaxing and social experience.  There is no pressure to catch a lot of fish or to catch that big one.  Both do happen, but no one gets excited if it does not.  This solitude of a northern lake is a welcome respite from the pressures of daily life.  The weather can be frigid and forbidding but if one wears modern winter clothing it is no problem.

There is a saying among ice fishermen that 90 percent of the fish are in 10 percent of the water.  The anglers who find fish know the seasonal movement of their quarry and know how to use electronics to locate them.

Fish move to areas with food sources.  Northern pike prefer bays full of perch.  The real big ones tend to stay near deeper breaks.

Another consideration in finding fish is when they are not eating; they go to the warmest water available.  That is generally right on the bottom of the water column.  If you have a map of the lake and know where the deeper holes and drop-offs are located, you can make the knowledge work in your favor.

Rigging the minnow can also improve one’s chance of luring in a fish.  Once dropped into the water the minnow is competing with all other baitfish.  Once hooked a little differently it may attract a predator fish.  Because of rough conditions, small subtle changes in the rig may make a difference.  Other anglers often do not go the extra mile and this puts you ahead of the game.

Once you have the depth of the fish with the use of electronics or video cameras it is a simple matter of dropping a minnow on a jig to the bottom.  Then raise it up about 2 to 4-inches and jig it.  Let it sit motionless for a few seconds and repeat the jigging activity.  It helps to vary the speed and rhythm movements.  Fish are attracted to the motion but usually bite when the minnow stops moving.

Shiner minnows are universal perch bait.  Northern pike and walleye also love them.  However artificial grubs can result in action.

Ice fishing up here is usually out of a resort.  It is not expensive as fishing trips go.  There is no stress to go out and cut holes.  The guides do it for you in advance.  Most resorts also provide ice houses that are large, warm and comfortable.


Posted 11/29/2014 by Donald Gasaway in Misc.

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