Ice Team Digital Magazine | January 2022

Page 1

JANUARY ISSUE | 21-2022

MOBILITY = SUCCESS

ON THE ICE

CATCHING

NOT FISHING

A DAY ON THE ICE

SOLUTIONS FOR

FINICKY PANFISH THE HUNT FOR

MATT KLUG

GILLZILLA

ICE FISHING

THE UPSIDE OF

GAMEPLAN

UPSIZING

ICE FISHING

TIP UP

INLAND TROUT

FISHING



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TABLE OF CONTENTS 06

CATCHING NOT FISHING

10

A DAY ON THE ICE MATT KLUG

12

ICE FISHING GAMEPLAN

16

ICE FISHING INLAND TROUT

20

MOBILITY = SUCCESS

22

SOLUTIONS FOR FINICKY PANFISH

28

HUNT FOR GILLZILLA

30

TIP UP FISHING

36

THE UPSIDE OF UPSIZING

DIGITAL Magazine Ice Team Magazine Editors: Matt Johnson Contributing Writers: Mike Howe, Jerry Carlson, Jason Mitchell, Mark Martin, Bob Jensen, Chuck Mason, Vic Attardo, Ryan Salemi

The True Center of the Ice Fishing World PH: 763 - 231 - 4126 FAX: 763 - 231 - 4121 Email: info@iceteam.com Website: iceteam.com Ice Team Manager Matt Johnson facebook.com/IceTeamRevolution twitter.com/IceTeamNews youtube.com/IceTeamVideos Advertise with Ice Team Call MSPN at 800 - 989 - 6776 or email sales@iceteamfishing.com

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hat separates the successful anglers from unsuccessful anglers? The guys that are constantly posting on social media fabulous pictures of amazing catches that we wish were ours, how do they constantly do that? Wouldn’t it be the best if we always said “hey, I’m going out catching fish”, like your berry picking or something. Well, I’ve been privileged enough to fish with the Genz family for many years and that’s exactly what they do, not to say they never have to fish, but because of all the years of fishing and their vast network of fellow friend anglers for the most part they sit at the breakfast table having coffee in the morning and then say

well it’s time to go catching. There are some real ways where you can make this happen without being a Genz or fishing with one. One is having the confidence to head out on that lake with the attitude of gratitude for all those fish you’re going to catch. I’m a firm believer in if you believe it then its way more likely to happen. Even if you must fake it till you make it in the beginning, eventually you’ll start believing it. Now to be a catcher and not a fisher you’ll have to know where the fish are, if you are a confident angler you will and should use all resources to up your odds of catching, before

game day be open to where you might fish, call local bait shops by different lake areas that you’re interested in and really listen and ask questions about what lake in that area has the best bite etc… Use social media, some anglers have no problem sharing the fun, but be prepared, some anglers will be as tight lipped as a rough day of fishing. Google it, sites like Explore Minnesota, lake finder and countless apps with claim to the best fishing reports can help you decide you’re catching quest. Feeling and seeing the bite is key to catching fish and having Clam Outdoors frost Ice metered line on my rod really helps, I use a lb

NOW TO BE A CATCHER AND NOT A FISHER YOU’LL HAVE TO KNOW WHERE THE FISH ARE, IF YOU ARE A CONFIDENT ANGLER YOU WILL AND SHOULD USE ALL RESOURCES TO UP YOUR ODDS OF CATCHING

iceteam.com >> Ice Digital January Issue >> 7


test Monofilament for pan fish and prefer the orange and clear metered line, tying the clear part of the line to my Jig and positioning the orange part of the line right at the top of my ice hole so I can watch the line when fish lips even touch it. Although there’s always the game of do I need to let the fish take it for a while or do I set the hook immediately, these are things that will be figured out by trial and error that day, but if you see slack in the line, set the hook because the fish has committed at this point. Another tip to be a catcher, not a fisher is the silky, put one of these

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on any of your CPT jigs and the fish find it irresistible. The natural fibers make the silky float effortlessly underwater agitating the fish and making them instinctively crush your jig. Have a few rods set up using different jig styles, not forgetting that it might not only be color that needs a change but whether it is a vertical or horizontal jig, that could be all that’s needed to get them on the dinner plate. Finally, being mobile when ice fishing is necessary and a weed line or mud/gravel line would be ideal, but sometimes we are just a few feet away so keep in mind small moves can be all that’s needed, you picked that spot

for a reason so before giving up make sure you’ve made several small moves before any drastic changes, But most of being an angler that’s catches fish is putting in time and effort which leads to the kind of experience Dave Genz has earned. We all learn something new every time we go out fishing and I think proclaiming I’m going Catching not fishing is a mind over matter confidence issue I use as just another tool in the toolbox.


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I

ce fishing guide, Matt Klug and I had been trying to hook up for a crappie outing for some time. Between the uncooperative ice formation and poor weather, it took a while to get it done. However, persistence paid off and we solidified a date for the event.

It was a comfortable twenty degrees when we arrived at the landing of a St. Cloud, Minnesota area lake. However, we knew this would not last as the front would soon be on us. Just to be safe, I threw an extra jacket onto the sled before we headed onto the ice.

After a bit of a hike, I checked the GPS on my phone to help us find the general location we wanted to fish. The basin we were targeting was quite extensive and picking a spot that had been productive in past outings seemed like a good idea.

Although I am not a fan of fishing in extremely cold weather, we both agreed we would tolerate the predicted high winds and low windchills and tough it out for a few hours. Since neither one of us really likes to fish out of a house, weather can be more of an issue.

Klug knew this location well as it was one of his favorite spots to take clients, especially those that had kids along. Although the crappies did not run big on this lake, the numbers were impressive which helped when taking families on the ice.

With the assistance from a Garmin LiveScope, Klug soon had some suspended crappies pinpointed. However, when we drilled out an area to fish, the crappies spooked and were nowhere to be found. This is not that unusual when there is only five inches of ice.

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It was another 50 yards before we came across another cluster of fish. This time, the school was big enough that when we were done with eight to ten holes, some fish were still hanging around. With fish on the Vexilars, we got down to business.

Eventually, the cold front and 30 mph winds caught up to us. We toughed it out a bit longer, but the windchill and falling temps got the best of us. We headed for a local convenience store for a cup of hot coffee.

Klug opted to start with a 1/16 ounce Tikka Minnow. I went with a Pinhead Minnow. It quickly became evident that the crappies were equally attracted to both lures. In no time at all, we had multiple fish flopping on the ice.

It was over coffee that Klug talked about his guiding business and how much easier it is to fish open water than winter conditions. Still, he typically runs over 50 trips a year on the ice. Most of the time he targets panfish in the St. Cloud and Alexandria area.

Not surprisingly, the crappies did not stick around long. This is pretty much the norm when chasing basin crappies during the midday period. Over the next couple of hours, we were constantly searching new areas to keep up with the fast-moving fish.

Although we didn’t get another date on the calendar, we agreed to get back on the ice in the very near future. Hopefully, it will be on a more moderate day!

ALTHOUGH THE CRAPPIES DID NOT RUN BIG ON THIS LAKE, THE NUMBERS WERE IMPRESSIVE WHICH HELPED WHEN TAKING FAMILIES ON THE ICE

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on a lot of fishable structure if it doesn’t use detailed contour lines. Study the t is the night before your planned map look for submerged weed beds fishing trip, you have the truck noted on the map, then go to google loaded and ready to go, but did earth and see if you can confirm the you do your homework? Did you lay weed beds existence from an ariel view. out a game plan for tomorrow’s trip? If so, I note those locations to check More often than to see if the not that answer is weeds are still no. It is time to green. Look make a game plan on the map IT IS TIME TO MAKE A GAME PLAN ON on how you are for contours going to attack HOW YOU ARE GOING TO ATTACK THE that act as the lake, so when highways for LAKE, SO WHEN YOU HIT THE ICE, YOU you hit the ice, you fish, think know exactly what KNOW EXACTLY WHAT TO DO. how the first to do. Here is the drop of shore homework you would work should do before to channel fish around the structure or hitting the ice: flat, how they could use that edge to trap their prey. Look for underwater 1. Use a detailed lake map, you can use points that give the predators that whatever you have available, whether same trapping advantage. Humps and it is an old school map book, or an Sunken Islands can also be a haven for online map through services such as Walleyes and Perch. Navionics. The map must be detailed

I

2. Make your plan. Look at the structures you identified to fish, if using a GPS unit mark your spots so they are easy to find once on ice. What launch is closest to your first fishing areas selected? Next make your plan of what order you are going to fish the structures/spots you identified. Set out times that you are going to commit to move to the next spot unless the bite is hot. You can put this plan in your phone or on the back of a napkin but make sure you bring it with! 3. Divide and conquer if you are fishing in numbers, split your group into two and tackle two areas, communicate with one another on what you find, it will help you get on the fish faster Having a plan before you head out fishing will narrow down the time in finding a good bite. Use these tips this winter and shorten the time between fishing and catching. Be the Bite!

with the contour lines, you will miss out

iceteam.com >> Ice Digital January Issue >> 13


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ce fishing for inland trout is extremely popular and insanely fun. When we look at classic trout water, we often think of the western mountain states like Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado or Utah but there is tremendous trout fishing far beyond. Many of these winter trout fishing opportunities are the result of aggressive stockings, even in the western states. Many of the ice fishing opportunities take place on lakes or reservoirs. Some regions like the Black Hills region of South Dakota are renown trout fishing regions but there are so many trout fisheries scattered across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and beyond. Rainbows are probably the most common and most stocked fish across many regions, but we also encounter brown trout, brook trout and a few cutthroats in our travels. What makes ice fishing for trout so much fun in my opinion is the battle. When you hook up with a twenty-five-inch trout on six-pound mono, there is chaos. These fish have horsepower. Trout also have

a knack for simply living in beautiful places as well. We often think of trout as a deep or cold-water fish but during the winter, we often see the most productive fishing in shallow water. These fish often seem to continuously roam and seem to be constantly moving. While we have found fish deeper under the ice, if there is one pattern or location that simply holds trout under the ice… that location would be shallow weeds. Shallow to mid depth flats or points with weeds seem so productive. These shallow locations that have quick access to deeper water often resemble locations many Midwest anglers would target bluegill. The presentations often also resemble the panfish spectrum with small tear drops and horizontal jigs tipped with waxworms. Like panfish, these inland trout are typically bug eaters. Not to say a big trout will not hit a bigger lure or live minnow because they can and do but small bug mimicking presentations simply catch fish under the ice. Also, worth noting that on many trout fisheries we have spent time on, live minnows have often been illegal to use for bait.

Last winter, we filmed an episode on Georgetown Reservoir in western Montana with Jim Kalkofen. Georgetown is classic trout water located in a scenic mountain setting. The system was deadly. Kalkofen uses a lot of dead sticks to catch trout. A limber light action rod is necessary for detecting the bites, but the rod also has to have some backbone for handling these hard fighting fish. The Jason Mitchell Dead Meat Rod in the 36-inch action is a perfect inland trout rod. We typically spool up a good spinning reel with mono as the stretch in the line is important for small hooks and hard fighting fish. Depending on the water and size of fish, many anglers agree that four-to-six-pound mono gets the most bites. If you go much heavier, you simply get ignored. Mono also seems to help get more bites in clear water with excellent visibility. Kalkofen likes to use spoons with droppers a lot for the added flash and attraction. We used a size ¼ ounce CPT Leech Flutter Spoon and removed the treble on the spoon and added a foot long dropper of six-pound mono with a tiny size ten millimeter panfish jig below. The CPT Drop XL jigs are perfect with the larger, wider gap hook for trout. iceteam.com >> Ice Digital January Issue >> 17


Trout are incredibly smell orientated. Add and change bait often when fishing for trout. Eggs sacks, cured eggs, waxworms and spikes all catch winter trout. While the flash and color of the dropper spoon can attract fish, these trout will often find your presentation with their nose. The dead sticks often catch as many fish as the rod you jig. Many anglers use rod stands or tip downs for dead sticks when trout fishing. The Arctic Warriors are an easy tool for setting up dead sticks that trip a flag when some trout hits. In some regions,

hook setting devices like the Jaw Jacker or Automatic Fisherman are legal and useful for catching fish. The challenge with trout fishing is that these fish often require light line, fairly small hooks and these fish fight hard. There is also a catch and release mortality component as well where trout can be fairly fragile compared to many other fish. This is why the hook setting devices like the Jaw Jacker, and Automatic Fisherman are so effective as the fish get hooked before they get a chance to swallow the hook.

THE CHALLENGE WITH TROUT FISHING IS THAT THESE FISH OFTEN REQUIRE LIGHT LINE, FAIRLY SMALL HOOKS AND THESE FISH FIGHT HARD.

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How trout feed is pretty fascinating. A handful of years ago, we sight fished for trout on Deerfield Reservoir in the

Black Hills of South Dakota with Craig Oyler. We could watch trout darting in and out as they circled the jig. These fish would bump the jig with their nose. Swat the jig with their tail. In and out, around, and round. These fish were constantly moving like sharks. When you use a Vexilar, you will notice the same movement. These fish will chase you. These fish will leave and come back. These fish will dart in and out and you sometimes have to finesse these fish to hit. Trout can be simply gorgeous but cosmetics aside, these fish can be so much fun to catch through the ice with hard runs and bulldog determination. You simply do not get to man handle a big trout with light line. Throw in some pristine scenery like a mountain range or a remote Northwoods skyline and it is so easy to see why so many ice anglers love to target these beautiful fish.


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s winter ice fishing progresses some tactics must be changed. Early in the season the action is fast and as the ice gets thicker and the days colder the fish tend to slow down and move. In fact, in most bodies of water mobility is crucial if you want to stay on fish. Never spend too much time in one place. When it requires some effort to make a move sometimes it’s just easier to sit and wait for the fish to come to you. With all the innovations in ice-fishing gear, making anglers more versatile and more mobile, it makes sense to have an attitude that will have you moving, searching for active fish. From first ice to last ice, you won’t see me in one spot for very long. One thing I focus on is packing as light as possible. The lighter you pack the easier it is to move, and you will move more often when lees work is involved. If I am not pulling my Fish Trap by hand covering the ice you will find me on my Ski Doo Expedition. In fact, my Snowmobile has a mounted Clam Drill 7” auger on the front, Fish Trap on the back loaded up with my rods, Mr. Heater, tackle and Vexilar. On the dash I have my Lowrance with a Navionics chip loaded in it. The key to ice fishing as it is in any fishing is location. This is where my Lowrance and my Navionics really help me find specific structure. For perch and other game fish, try long tapering points; inside channel turns; rock humps, neck downs, and structure near spring spawning areas. Use the sonar to spot fish. Try submerged brush piles and blow downs for crappie and bluegill. Watch the screen or flasher. You can actually see fish appear on a graph. Sensitive sonars track your lure so you can put it right in the fish’s face. I have seen a mark appear on the sonar screen while reeling in a lure. A pause and the mark moved closer to the bait. A twitch of the wrist brought a powerful strike. A heart-racing fight put a nice jumbo perch on the ice. Effective scouting may require drilling a lot of holes. If you fish a weedline early in the year it might take several holes to find the right area the fish are in, and of course they move along the weedline so it is important to stay with the fish as they cruise the shallows in search of food. What I try to do is to drill a series of holes along a particular structure. I will start shallow and drill a couple of holes about 20 >> iceteam.com >> Ice Digital January Issue


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six feet apart. Then I will move along the break line of this structure until I reach a depth of about 22 feet or so. Depending on the weather I usually like to start in the shallow areas to see what type of activity is there first. Then I move along my series of holes until I reach a productive hole and the active depth. Jigging is the deadliest method of all, if done properly. Proper size, color selection and action all come into play. I like using a Clam Red Glow Drop Kick jig (#10) and the Drop Jig. I will tip one with Maki Mino (white) plastic and the other one with maggots. Another deadly method is a Drop Kick with a Silkie tipped with a plastic or maggots. Stay light with your line. I prefer to use 3-pound Frost metered orange line when targeting bluegills and crappies. My rod choice is the Scepter Stick. I like the 30” Noodle and the 28” Medium light action. Your lure selection might also have to change. The style and shape of the Clam Panfish Leech Flutter Spoon and the Ribbon Leech Flutter Spoon allows it to flutter as it falls. This will simulate a wounded minnow and turn those inactive fish into active ones. These types of lures have a swimming action, and they dart as they fall. This will give the fish the impression that minnows are darting and swimming towards them and escaping from them and it will trigger a response from those finicky walleyes. Remember to be conscience of the size of your bait. The old adage that the “larger the bait, the larger the fish,” will hold true, but if the fish turn off, try a smaller size and you might be surprised. In order to be mobile your equipment and your approach to ice fishing has to be constantly changing to search for active fish. Safety should not be taken lightly; it should be an intricate part of your mobile plan. Keep moving and locating fish and you will find that mobility does pay off when you are on the ice this year. Remember ice is never 100% safe. For extra peace of mind, I wear my Ice Armor by Clam Rise Float suit with Motion Float technology and a set of Ice picks around my neck and having a good set of ice cleats is must. I like the Apex Ice Cleats by Korkers. I also carry a throwable boat cushion and 50’of rope for extra piece of mind in case you get in trouble. iceteam.com >> Ice Digital January Issue >> 21


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ne challenge panfish anglers, and really any angler faces is what to do when fish are neutral or negative in behavior. This can be especially frustrating when opportunities to get out on the ice are limited.

Numerous variables affect fish behavior, including weather changes, angler traffic and time of day. One could make a very long list of reasons why fish don’t bite! Certain influential characteristics simply cannot be changed, like weather for instance. What anglers should rely upon instead is focusing on the items they CAN change!

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Downsizing & Details You hear this mentioned almost like a golden rule to embrace when encountering fish that are behaving negatively. Smaller presentations, lighter line, less aggressive movements all tend to help when the fish are upset. It’s these times that minor details like choosing the exact color the fish want, switching to live bait vs. plastics (or vice versa)


and finding that precision spot on the spot that are key elements. Paying close attention to how the fish are biting is equally important. It’s frustrating to work so hard to finally get a bite and once you do, mess it up on the hookset. Sometimes a slight pause after the fish has hit to let it double-clutch the bait is all it takes, other times it’s adjusting the knot on the eye of your hook just right to ensure your jig is sitting at the ideal angle. And when it comes to

live, bait, plastics or silkies, taking a few seconds to monitor the movement of your presentation as you jig while it’s a few inches beneath the surface will help you make minor adjustments before dropping it down to the fish. A jig that tends to rotate in one direction as you jig is going to quickly twist your line and unwind any time you stop, even if you’re using an in-line reel to help alleviate line twist. Upsizing Contrary to down-sizing, upsizing isn’t something most anglers consider when the bite is slow. However, this is a deadly tool for pulling in fish from a greater distance and sparking a reaction bite. Though ice anglers are more mobile today than ever and


finding the areas where panfish reside is essential to catch them, ice fishing ultimately requires the fish to come to you. You can land right on top of a giant school of crappie, but the fish still need to approach your bait and bite. Often times, utilizing a two rod/ presentation approach is highly effective. For instance, one rod might have a jigging spoon tied on while your second rod has a small tungsten jig ready for action. There are two ways to present these in combination. The first is to use the jigging spoon in a primary hole to get the fish to approach, then quickly reel in and drop the jig down to catch the fish. It’s the ‘ol bait and switch! This works well, but there are times when the fish leave so quickly that the tungsten jig arrives late to the party.

Another idea is to fish two holes very close to each other. You can work one rod with each hand, or have the jig sitting as a deadstick. Using the deadstick approach, when a fish comes into the vicinity, a minute, calculated and condensed jigging motion often gets the fish to turn their attention to the small jig. However, experiment by pulling up the spoon and letting that tiny jig sit solo and motionless. Sometimes with negative fish, it’s exactly what they want. Move Mobility is a huge asset for today’s ice angler, and moving is probably the most valuable adjustment you can make. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving a stone’s throw away, but often, when those fish are incredibly tight lipped, bigger

moves are better. On very large bodies of water, each bay can fish like an independent lake. Don’t get intimidated by the overall size of the entire lake, but focus on one individual bay. If you’re using your cell phone for mapping, both the Navionics and Lakemaster apps work well and will give you great insight into which direction to head based upon each bay’s physical characteristics. On smaller lakes, pulling the plug and heading to another lake is often a good idea. Though there are times when fish activity in an entire region is affected by weather, it’s more common that a shift to another lake produces the bites you’re after!


iceteam.com >> Ice Digital January Issue >> 25


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luegill fishing is an instant addiction for anglers young and old, and for most of us, it’s the first fish we’re introduced to through both open water and ice fishing. There are several reasons why anglers across the ice belt search out this species... one reason for me is the fight, pound for pound gills provide one of the most exciting fish hook-ups out there, especially through the ice. A few other reasons we all search them out, are for their willingness to provide anglers of all ages plenty of action throughout the entire year and they provide very tasty table fare! By far, my absolute favorite reasoning for targeting bluegills is the hunt! Hunting down Gillzilla is an exhilarating addiction. Average eater bluegills can be found almost anywhere on your body of water, but when hunting for Gillzilla, you must think a little outside the box. When preparing for my hunt, I first dissect all lake maps I can find for that body of water I’m fishing. I’m looking for shallower mud flats that are adjacent to relatively deeper water. The ideal depth that I’m looking for on these mud flats are that 10 to 13fow adjacent to 20- 30-foot basins or sub basins. Mud flats provide a smorgasbord of diet for big gills. They host bugs, bloodworms, small bait fish and crustaceans that big gills love. Whenever I want a high percentage chance of sticking a Gillzilla, I search out mud flats...these fish will pull out of the deeper adjacent water and feed on these shallower mud flats often during the

morning hours and sometimes, staying there to cruise throughout the afternoon if the conditions are right. When experiencing extreme cold, sunny high-pressure conditions, most of these fish will push back into the deeper water again...but they can still be caught! When these fish push back to basin areas, I look for deep water structure. During these tough weather conditions big gills will seek out deep water structure like wood, rock piles, or man-made fish cribs. Having good electronics is very necessary when hunting Gillzilla in deeper water. One other spot to target Gillzilla that often gets overlooked, is hunting them in shallow weeds. Over the years I’ve caught some of my biggest bluegills fishing in 4 to 6fow in reeds, cabbage pockets, and shallow sand grass. Key times to do this would be during overcast, low pressure weather patterns or at sundown when Gillzilla’s on the hunt for an evening meal. Naturally, a stealthy approach is needed when hunting these big plates in that shallow of water, often using the method of sight fishing to find them. Baits of choice vary but when hunting them on the shallower mud flats I like to start with the 1/16th oz jointed pinhead mino...it’s simply a great search bait for active fish. When forced to fish deeper water, I really like the Clam Maggot Drop tipped with crushed maggots or waxies...it offers a vertical presentation with the juices hanging out, a presentation that will glide down to the deeper target depths that they can suck in rather easily. When it comes to the shallow weed bite, nothing beats a small 3mm tungsten tipped with a single spike or waxie. I hope this article helps you put your personal best bluegill topside this ice season!


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pend a few minutes talking ice fishing with me and you’ll likely hear me say that I prefer not to use tip ups when ice fishing. I’m more of a mobile ice angler and tip ups (sometimes) act like anchors. It seems like I no sooner get my tip ups in the water, than I am ready to move again. However, I recognize that there are days when certain species, especially the lake trout and white perch in Lake Winnipesaukee, will only eat a live smelt. Sometimes it’s harder to be mobile because I’m with a large group of people. If I want to catch fish on those days, I must step outside my comfort zone and set some tip ups. Besides, the majority of my clients love chasing flags and making sure they have fun catching fish is a priority. When I’m guiding and fish are on the move, I find it especially advantageous to put out a few tip ups. Also, the larger the group, the harder it is to move everyone around, and the more I will rely on tip ups to help pick away at spread out fish. They not only make excellent scouting tools, because you can spread them out, but they serve as indicators to let you know if you’ve

missed your mark, or if the fish are traveling just out of range. On Lake Winnipesaukee, each angler is allowed two lines, which means everyone can jig and have one tip up in the water. With larger groups that’s a lot more lines in the water than jigging alone. I can spread them out over an area and increase the number of fish caught, especially on days when the fish prefer live bait. On most other lakes in New Hampshire, the limit is six lines per angler, which can mean far more fish than just jigging. Fishing tip ups also helps locate nomadic schools of fish that might otherwise swim by just out of sight of your set up. Tip ups can be effective on large expansive mud flats, such as those found on lakes

like Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota. Fishing mud flats can be hit or miss, since you’re waiting for fish to cruise by. If you’re fishing for food, spreading out tip ups can add valuable fish to your fish fry. Like most ice fishing gear, advancements and innovations have given anglers far more choices than ever before when it comes to tip up fishing. More choices in tip up designs can make tip up selection a bit more daunting, but more choices also means anglers can tailor even their tip up fishing to meet storage requirements and fishing style. I have become a huge fan of the Trophy Thermal Tip Ups from Clam Outdoors. They are an insulated tip up that covers the hole and helps prevent it from freezing. They work surprisingly well at preventing freeze ups. Their 10.5inch diameter means they will cover

LIKE MOST ICE FISHING GEAR, ADVANCEMENTS AND INNOVATIONS HAVE GIVEN ANGLERS FAR MORE CHOICES THAN EVER BEFORE WHEN IT COMES TO TIP UP FISHING.


a 10-inch hole. I don’t fish a 10-inch hole, but many anglers do. They also store nicely inside a 5-gallon bucket. Whether you’re trying to locate fish, fishing for food, or just love the fun of chasing flags, tip ups are not only a ton of fun, but they can be very productive. Use them to cover a diversity of areas and bottom types. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can jig and fish tip ups or fish only tip ups. Consider why you’re there and decide if tip ups will be right for you that day. If you want to be more mobile, you may want to leave them at home. If you have kids or anyone who loves the surprise of the flag and the anticipation of finding out what is on the other end, then you might want to consider tip ups. Whether they are used as a tool to catch more fish, or a method of increasing the fun, I almost always have at least a couple with me. Tim Moore is a full-time professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association, and the producer of TMO Fishing on YouTube and the Hooked with TMO Fishing Podcast. Visit www. TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.


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T

he barometer is high and the bite is tough. The fish are somewhere between neutral and negative to every presentation that you’ve thrown at them. What’s your next move? Switch to live bait? Change colors? Different jigs? Switch between horizontal lor vertical? None of those are bad options but, typically, when the bite gets tough an ice angler’s first thought is to downsize. Downsizing is not a bad option at all and many times it works to get those finicky fish to bite. Sometimes though… even downsizing doesn’t work. Now what? How about giving upsizing a try? I know it sounds strange, but many times it works when downsizing doesn’t. It works so well, in fact, that I will often try upsizing before I downsize in an attempt to trigger a bite. I even have a couple of theories as to why it works so well. Calories In, Calories Out There’s a reason that the metabolism of most fish slows in the winter. Good high-calorie sources of protein become much more scarce. Rather than expend lots of energy and burning lots of calories chasing food sources around, the metabolism slows enough that it only needs occasional caloric topoffs in order to survive until winter ends and food becomes more readily available. What this means is that fish have to be very selective when it comes to deciding which food sources to chase. For every opportunity that presents itself, they have to determine if the calories taken in can justify the calories burned. Since most larger

food sources contain more calories than smaller ones, it is much easier to justify pursuing the biggest food sources available. Will fish eat smaller offerings during the winter? Of course, they will, especially if it is an opportunity that requires little to no energy expenditure. However, if the potential calories burned are the same, metabolically speaking, the larger offering is the best one for the fish to eat. This is one reason that I always start big when searching for fish and then downsizing as needed. I feel that the larger presentation has a much greater chance of drawing fish in, because there are more calories there to justify the fish expending the extra energy to come investigate. I feel the fish often see the smaller offerings, but don’t want to burn the calories to come investigate because there is no opportunity for them to end up with a net gain of calories by eating that smaller food source. Don’t Make Me Angry! Sometimes I feel that fish eat an upsized presentation simply because it makes them mad. Much like waving a red flag in front of a bull, an upsized presentation is often an assault to the lateral line of the fish and the best way to eliminate that is to eat the offending food source. Often times, when the fish are negative it is because the barometer is high. This extra pressure in the atmosphere puts extra pressure on the swim bladder of a fish which, in turn, makes the fish feel very full. Think of how low your interest in food is immediately after stuffing yourself at Thanksgiving dinner. This is exactly how a fish feels with a high barometer and explains why they are so reluctant

to eat. You are not going to trigger these fish by appealing to their need or desire to take in calories. In these situations, the best way to get these fish to eat is to make them angry, which explains perfectly why upsizing can work when the bite is tough. Essentially, you’re trying to get the fish to eat in order to remove an annoyance rather than trying to get them to eat because they’re hungry. In instances like this it’s also worth noting that it isn’t enough to just upsize. An upsized bait is rarely enough to annoy a fish to the point of eating that annoyance. In order to assure that the lateral line of the fish is being stimulated to the point of annoyance, the upsized offering must be worked in a very aggressive manner. Another reason I feel upsizing can be so effective, and it’s somewhat related to making the fish mad is that it can create increased competition among nearby fish. If the offering is big enough to offer the potential for significant calories it’s in the best interest of any single fish to be the first one to that big glob of calories so that they can eat it. When the Going Gets Tough… …the tough go BIGGER! Fish can become VERY negative during the hardwater months…probably more so than at any other time of the year. So, the next time you’re faced with a tough bite on the ice don’t hesitate to give upsizing a try. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive, but there are many good reasons why it often works. You just have to try it once to see for yourself and once it works, upsizing will definitely find its place in your bag of tricks. iceteam.com >> Ice Digital January Issue >> 37



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