Food For Thought Gord Pyzer discusses fish behavior and how it varies from lake to lake.
Interested in trying something new? Tip-ups provide an exciting way to increase your winter catch
Noisy Options On Ice
All Perch, All the Time All the information youâ€™ll need to catch (and cook!) Perch this ice-fishing season.
10 #AppsForAnglers Fishing Pics
The 1, 2, 3â€™s of Taking Kids Ice Fishing Taking the little one out on the ice? Here are 7 tips to keep them interested and entertained!
Noisy rattlebaits are a unique, new, cutting edge ice fishing option.
HT Series of Tip-Ups
How to Find Fish in Winter Finding fish in winter can be intimidating, but modern equipment & strategies are available!
Updates for your iFish Apps
Feature Recipe from Chef Steph
A note from the Editor... Since we launched the iFish App for the iPhone in 2010, we’ve been working hard to improve the apps - and expand on them. Today, we have iFish apps available in Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Recently, we also launched south of the
iFish Magazine ™ - Volume 1, Issue 1 Winter 2013
border and now have iFish USA which covers over 120,000 water bodies. We are also releasing state specific apps
EDITOR Randy Chamzuk DESIGN Marcel Schoenhardt CONTRIBUTIONS
for those who usually fish locally;
Gord Pyzer, Tom Gruenwald, Stephanie Wakelin, Gary Kash, Thane Perritt, Candace Chamzuk
been working hard at expanding our reach and offerings, it has been a fun
iFish Texas, Arizona, Florida, New York, & Minnesota are all available now and more on the way. Although we’ve adventure. Its amazing how much positive feedback we get and it really is the driving force for us to do more.
iFish Magazine™ is published by: QDI Group of Companies 9320 49th St Edmonton, AB T6B 2L7 Tel (780) 466-2535
In our quest to bring fresh content and information to our apps, we decided to try something new – a digital magazine under our own brand. We hope you enjoy the inaugural issue of the iFish Magazine and who knows, if the feedback is good, we will look forward to the release of regular editions. Enjoy the magazine, the apps and Fish with Attitude!
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION All Contents copyrighted. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material without prior written consent from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Printed in Canada. iFish Magazine™ is not responsible for researching the accuracy of the contents published in iFish Magazine™. Readers are advised that the use of the information contained within is at their own risk and neither party assumes any risk or liability for it.
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ON THE COVER... This edition’s cover features youngster Joel proudly presenting his first solo perch at a beautiful Central Alberta lake.
BEHOLD. THE LONGEST SPLIT SECOND IN THE UNIVERSE. The big one? Or the one that got away? What you do with your wrist in the next fraction of a second decides it. Tick, tock.
ONLY WHOLESALE SPORTS IS AS OBSESSED WITH FISHING AS YOU ARE. AND WE HAVE THE PEOPLE AND GEAR TO PROVE IT. FIND YOUR LOCAL STORE AT WHOLESALESPORTS.COM
Story by Gord Pyzer
I’ve never understood the meaning of the catchphrase “a bass is a bass no matter where you find it”. By the way, you can substitute walleye, lake trout, northern pike, yellow perch or black crappie if one of those happens to be your favorite. The fact of the matter is that the fish in one lake usually behave quite differently than the fish in another lake – even one directly across the road. The torrid first-ice walleye bite last Christmas was a good case in point. In a shallow, bog-stained lake close to home, the fish were relating to the soft bottom edges of cabbage weeds where they were feasting on youngof-the-year perch. You could shake a firetiger-colored Tingler spoon adorned with a minnow head, feel a thud, set the hook and plop a bright yellow and black
tinged walleye onto the ice without reeling in an inch of line. Forty-eight hours later, out on a much bigger and much clearer lake, we stretched out string once again on early winter walleye. Only this time the fish were relating to the hard bottomed edges associated with points, harassing schools of smelt and emerald shiners in water ten times as deep. And they were smacking black-backed, silversided Jigging Raps. So enlighten me on the similarities.
Forage Influences Location Ironically, what the comparison does tell us is that a walleye is indeed a walleye no matter where you find it. But in ways most ice anglers miss. The fish are elastic in their habits.
iFish Magazine : : : 6
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
They’re eurybionts in the tongue of biologists, adjusting and adapting readily to local conditions. Most other popular winter species, including lake trout, whitefish, northern pike, yellow perch and black crappies, are just as plastic in their habits. Which might suggest that finding them, selecting the right lure and making the proper presentation would be a tough, almost random, exercise in
futility. But it is not usually the case. Thanks to one everpresent factor: forage. As much or more than anything else, forage positions the fish under the ice. Lake trout are an amazing example. Thriving in frigid water temperatures (specifically 48ºF to 52ºF), they’re locked by thermal constraints into the basement of most lakes throughout the summer months. Not surprisingly during this period, they feast on ciscoes, whitefish and smelt that also favor the cool climes and deepwater hangouts. The pelagic forage is moving structure. But in the winter, when the entire lake is within the thermal tolerances of trout it is a different scenario. While many winter trout anglers remain single-mindedly focused on deep water, you’re often more likely to find lake trout foraging in places more suited to walleye. Especially if there is an abundance of shallow water structure and cover and, thus, shallow water forage – particularly yellow perch – that remain out of their reach in the summer. It is a situation I’ve exploited for years. The best locations are often large flats stretching between and connecting a series of islands. The shallow shelves typically average about 30-feet while the key trout depth is often ten feet shallower. The lakers devour perch-painted lures and if you clean a
iFish Magazine : : : 7
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In a shallow, bog-stained lake close to home, the ﬁsh were relating to the soft bottom edges of cabbage weeds where they were feasting on young-of-the-year perch.
small trout for shorelunch you nearly always discover perch in its stomach.
When you tip a small jig with maggots and lay the package on the bottom under a tight-line-to-a-bobber, the perch will poke a white flag up your ice hole and surrender en masse. Other times, species like northern pike will be drawn to high percentage winter areas such as shallow weedy bays with inflowing rivers because of the abundance and attraction of one species – white suckers in this instance – only to be tricked into biting more feverishly by the sight of one of their more favored vittles, a ciscoe or small whitefish. Think about the link this winter whenever and wherever you drill a hole in the ice. It is food for thought.
I believe a large part of the reason is that perch in the winter time represent an easy, abundant, energy-efficient target. Unlike the more mobile, harder-to-chase-down, cold-water pelagic species, the sluggish perch are sitting ducks. A trout can cruise over a flat or hard bottomed shallow structure and literally cherry-pick them off at will. It may even be that yellow perch are not the preferred food of winter lake trout – think hamburger instead of rib-eye – but they’re often so plentiful, so accessible and so effortless to catch that the trout specifically target them.
Preferred Versus Abundant Which brings up an interesting consideration. It is often important to distinguish between the foods that are most abundant, the foods that are most easily obtained and the meal that is most preferred in a specific lake, river, reservoir, pit or pond. Whenever you can amalgamate all three into one species, it is an ice fishing bonanza. Again, let’s look at an example. Bloodworms, the larval stage of the midge fly are so abundant in most shallow, basinshaped, prairie-type lakes that hundreds of thousands of the critters carpet every square yard of lake bottom. The chironomid larvae also happen to be at the top of the yellow perch (and crappie) dinner menu.
iFish Magazine : : : 8
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Want your photo featured here? Tag your Instragram pics with #AppsForAnglers and weâ€™ll re-post them! iFish Magazine : : : 10
Want your photo featured here? Tag your Instragram pics with #AppsForAnglers and weâ€™ll re-post them! iFish Magazine : : : 11
Available in the next update... Catch Log :::
Easily record your catches and all the details with photos and voice memos. Share to facebook, twitter, email, and even brag to iFish, allowing us to post your catches on OUR instagram, blog and other social media sites.
Save images of your licenses, receipts and more in our easy-to-use digital wallet.
Sync both your Catches and GloveBox to other devices with the back up feature. This is great for making sure you donâ€™t lose your catches and lets you view them online as well as on multiple devices; such as your iPad and iPhone.
iFish for Android By the time you read this, iFish Alberta should be available for the Android, with the rest of the provinces soon to follow. We want to say thank you to everyone who has been so patient… but the wait is over!
With our aw esome list of growing followers, we’ ve been shar ing and reposting YO UR fishing ph otos all over instagra m. We’ve sh ared hundreds of our user’s photos and want you to join in on th Just tag your e fun! fishing pictur es #AppsFor Anglers and we’ll fire ou t your photos !
Are you a Snow Bird heading south for winter? Be sure to check out our American Apps:
iFish USA Nominated in the Best App Ever Awards!
- iFish USA - iFish Texas - iFish Arizona - iFish Florida - iFish Minnesota - iFish New York ...Many more states in the making! Visit www.AppsForAnglers.com to get the latest news and info.
Our National American App was nominated into the App Awards for BEST OUTDOORS APP. We were selected as one of the top 10 apps amongst an elite group of outdoor apps such as Google Maps, Geocaching and Localscope. We will be sure to let you know how we did in the next issue!
iFish on your Computer! Now available for all of our Canadian Apps, you can view & add HotSpots, Lake Reports and so much more for free! Want to change your password? Did you get a new email address? Visit the website of whichever app you have and find the “Members Area” to update all of your user information!
Most Active Lakes in the iFish Series E YOUR APP arbque “I LOV h @UPnSMoKeB r as saying it’s pretty muc fa as go en ev & I’d an iPhone!” why I bought . test app I have his is the grea @BComisso “t find over 200 new lakes e It has helped m w years. I would be lost st fe during the pa without it!” well worth “Love this app, @CULLY1982 tantly used it last season, ns the money. I co lakes and caught tons of ss tle un co d foun fish. Thanks!” p, keeps you 2 “awesome ap @Dalecamp7 all the HotSpots in Sask” of well informed AMAZING!!” g “your app is in sh yﬁ oﬂ m @ve
Where’s everyone’s favorite fishing holes across Canada? These lakes have the most Views, HotSpots and Lake Feedbacks; making them the most active lakes in our iFish Series.
iFish Magazine : : : 13
NOISY OPTIONS ON ICE
Story by Gord Pyzer If noisy rattlebaits aren’t part of your winter walleye, pike, and lake trout arsenal you’re missing a unique, new, cutting edge option. One, quite frankly, you can’t afford to neglect, because many times rattlebaits will turn an otherwise ordinary day on the ice into an extraordinary ice fishing adventure. The last handful of winters I’ve spent several days on Lake Winnipeg, north of Selkirk, Manitoba, ice fishing for the massive lake’s famous “greenback” walleyes. Granted, the inland sea is arguably the finest winter walleye fishery on the planet right now, but even with these stellar credentials, it is not a “slam dunk”. You still need to fish smart, run and gun between isolated rock piles and constantly experiment with different bait and lure presentations. Still, I can’t recall a single multi-day trip when we haven’t averaged at least one double digit walleye (and often several) for each day spent on the ice. The number of “near” trophy size walleyes, on the other hand, fish in the 28-inch to 30-inch range, has been ridiculous. And the vast majority of these gorgeous ice-eyes have fallen victim to a noisy, lipless, rattlebait. Principally, a Rapala Clackin’ Rap or Live Target Herring or Gizzard Shad Vibration Trap. Even the giants that haven’t been triggered to bite the raucous noisemakers were at least first attracted by the lure, before they swung over and smacked a deadstick presentation in a hole two or three feet away. It is a deadly trap we set precisely for the occasion.
you’ll be pardoned for thinking there is no way it can be a methodical, plodding walleye. It has to be an invigorated lake trout or a ferocious pike, right? Wrong. For some strange reason noisy, throbbing, vibrating, lipless crankbaits cause walleyes to step out of character in precisely the same way they do in the summer when they chase down five- and six-inch long swimbaits skewered to heavy 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ounce swimbaits. It is enough to suggest walleye anglers need to re-visit their perception of walleye behavior. Indeed, because walleyes react so animatedly to the noisy lipless lures in the wintertime, we’ve begun experimenting
Still, the lures are an enigma.
Energizer Bunnies In extremely shallow, featureless, clear water environments like Lake Winnipeg, with thousands of anglers driving trucks and snowmachines over the walleyes’ heads, you’d think a loud, plump, solid plastic, vibrating, lipless crankbait would be the worst presentation you could use to attract, let alone trigger, otherwise educated, anaesthetized, hypothermic walleyes. But electrify them it does. Indeed, the first time you watch a fish streak across your sonar screen and chase down one of the wobbling rattlebaits,
iFish Magazine : : : 15
NOISY OPTIONS ON ICE
with them for the more aggressive species under the ice, especially for lake trout. Unlike walleye that prosper in lukewarm water temperatures, lake trout crave colder surroundings, thriving in ice box conditions. So, you’d expect if walleyes run down noisy rattlebaits under the ice that lake trout would devour them. And often they do, but here is what is intriguing: At other times they will streak across your sonar screen and cover the bait as though they’re scratching their heads wondering what to make of the strange noisemaker.
But this trout was a spectator, standing still, watching the lure run away. So, I stopped reeling and let the noisemaker wobble back down. The trout met it halfway on the fall but still didn’t hit, eye-balling it up close, as though inspecting the finish on the bait. After four or five seconds of close scrutiny, I shook the lure once, felt it wobble and rattle and the trout ate it gleefully. Many other lake trout have since reacted the same way.
For some strange reason noisy, throbbing, vibrating, lipless crankbaits cause walleyes to step out of character...
I’ll not forget the first time I watched it happen. Doug Stange and I were filming an episode of In-Fisherman Ice Guide television and at our first stop of the morning, on a shallow shelf that juts out from shore before breaking into 60 feet of water, I watched a lake trout rocket up after my lure. When we see trout do this, our normal response is to take the bait away from the fish, by reeling it up toward the surface as though it is a fleeing whitefish, ciscoe or smelt. When we do this, the trout usually turn on the afterburners, streak after the lure and overtake it with a crushing thud.
But, about 10-percent of the time, a lake trout will appear on the sonar screen, chase the bait a single time - like a muskie following a figure-8 bait through one revolution - and then lazily swim away. And once departed you can’t call the fish back for love nor money.
Which is bizarre when you think about it, because these wimpy lake trout are seemingly reacting to the lures the way you would assume walleyes would, while the walleyes are crushing the noisemakers like lake trout. Go figure.
A Work In Progress To date, we don’t have enough experience with the lures
iFish Magazine : : : 16
NOISY OPTIONS ON ICE
to fully pattern pike. From the northerns we have enticed, however, it appears the fish react to the clackers as they do to other horizontal jigging lures like Rapala Jigging Raps and Northland Puppet Minnows, perhaps the best lures ever made for wintertime pike jigging. In other words, instead of attacking from out of nowhere in a ferocious assault, you spot a thick band on your sonar screen slowly rising up from the bottom and covering your lure. Then, one or two light shakes of your rod tip usually seals the deal.
Want to read more Gord? Gord Pyzer is the Fishing Editor of Outdoor Canada Magazine, Field Editor of In-Fisherman Magazine and Co-Host of the Real Fishing Radio Show. In 2009, Gord was inducted into the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame.
I suspect the noisy clackers will excel along deep weedlines and in stained water situations where they will call in pike much as they do the nomadic walleyes, but only more time on the ice will tell. I suspect the noisy clackers will excel along deep weedlines and in stained water situations where they will call in pike much as they do the nomadic walleyes, but only more time on the ice will tell. In the meantime, we have enough experience with the noisy rattlebaits to know that you always need to have one tied onto at least one of your walleye rods as many days, it will account for the most and the biggest fish. For lake trout, we’ll still have a white tube jig or similar soft plastic lure in the starting rotation, but we won’t hesitate to have a noisy lipless crankbait warming up in the bullpen. Indeed, like the ace starter in the rotation, noisy, lipless, rattlebaits can be very good but they’re not magic. Sometimes they’ll stumble and falter, although most days they will win the game handily for you. And in the right situation, they will be remarkable. And so the experiment continues.
iFish Magazine : : : 17
PREP TIME 5 minutes COOK TIME 6 minutes SERVES 4 servings DIFFICULTY LEVEL Easy
Mix flour, paprika, and salt together and set aside.
In a small bowl, blend the egg and the half and half. Heat butter in a large sauté pan.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons paprika 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 cup half-and-half cream 1/2 cup clarified butter 1 1/2 pounds fresh, skinned lake perch
Feeling a bit spicy?
Dip perch fillets in egg wash first and then into the flour mixture.
Carefully place them into the hot butter in the sauté pan and brown on both sides.
Remove from the butter and drain on a paper towel to absorb excess butter.
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the flour for an added kick!
Add garnish to your liking, and serve to your awaiting guests!
iFish Magazine : : : 18
All Perch, All the Time Also Known As: Perca ﬂavescens, lake perch, perch, American perch, striped perch, coon perch, jack perch.
Yellow Perch are mostly found in the northern half of the United States and throughout Canada. The largest and most abundant perch are considered to be in Great Lakes drainage areas.
Colors can vary among fish, but generally the perch’s back will range from bright green to dark green or golden brown. Sides are bright yellow to brassy-green and the back color extends down in tapering, vertical bars.
Primarily a lake fish, sometimes found in ponds, rivers and slow moving streams. Usually found in 30 feet of water, with small fish relating to shorelines and larger ones heading for deeper water.
» Perch prefer cool, clear water. » Perch spawn shortly after ice out. » Perch exceeding 13-14 inches are considered “jumbos”
World Record Perch – 4 lbs 3 oz. New Jersey - 1865
Alberta Record Perch - 2 lbs 15.5 oz.
Perch are known for their delicious white, flaky flesh, similar to walleyes.
Island Lake - 1982
Saskatchewan Record Perch - 2 lbs 7.4 oz. Pagan Lake - 1991
Ontario Record Perch - 2 lbs 6.7 oz. Lake Erie - 2003
To catch yellow perch you need lures and jigs that attract their attention, bring them close and make them strike.
Small perch hang out in schools and are common forage for walleye and other predators until they reach a size large enough that they will actually begin traveling with walleye in search for food.
iFish Magazine : : : 19
Icons Land - http://www.icons-land.com
ICE FISHING TIP UP SYSTEMS Interested in trying something new? Tip-ups provide an exciting way to increase your winter catch, and today’s high performance models are available in a variety of styles, each engineered to meet various situations.
Traditional “Stick” Tip-Ups
“Stick” models define tip-ups: Devices supporting line filled spools and highly visible “flags” that pop up to indicate strikes. Stick tip-ups feature bases with spools mounted on one end, floppy metal strips tipped with bite signaling “flags” on the other and a trip wire in-between. This base is framed by two cross-supports that straddle the hole, allowing the spool to be lowered into the water. When a fish strikes, the spool turns, tripping the signal flag.
Underwater tip-ups are more specialized. The frames are flat and support a tube enclosing a shaft with a spool on one end and trip release on the other. Signal flags are positioned on spring loaded wires attached to the topside of the frame. To set, fold the tube mechanism down, lower the spool into the water and slip the flag wire under the trip. When a fish bites, the spool turns, spinning the trip and releasing the flag.
Since the spool is underwater your line won’t freeze, and quality models such as HT’s Fisherman feature trip wires placed within a lubricant filled tube to promote smooth operation.
Advantages: Low cost; larger diameter spools feature
greater line capacity and make spooling line faster. High profile frames are highly visible when fishing deep snow. Premium models like HT’s Polar feature shafts immersed in a sealed, lubricant packed tube that allow the shaft to spin smoothly, in fact, HT guarantees the Polar against freeze-up! In addition, the lightweight, V-shaped frames won’t freeze down, multiple setting trips and adjustable tubes allow a variety of drag settings, and the folding, compact design is easy to store and transport. Wood framed underwaters like HT’s Husky are advantageous when larger, longer, heavier frames are desired, such as when fishing larger diameter holes.
Advantages: Ultra-smooth trips, easy to use, adjustable, versatile.
iFish Magazine : : : 20
bottom. A spool with another magnet mounted on the lip is positioned at the tube base. To set, the shaft is pressed within the tube and the spool turned so the magnets align. Magnetic tension holds the shaft down inside the tube--yet offers minimal resistance when biting fish turn the spool--which, breaking the magnetic force, causes the shaft to rise, exposing the flag.
Advantages: Ultra-smooth trips, easy to use, mechanism won’t freeze, holes always remain open.
Thermal Tip-Ups Thermal tip-ups take the “underwater” concept a step further. Consider HT’s Polar Therm. The mechanism is identical to the underwater Polar, but instead of featuring flat, open frames, the freeze-proof mechanisms are mounted on round, plastic hole covers. These frames cover holes, trapping the thermal energy of the water and preventing holes from freezing even in extreme temperatures, plus prevent light and blowing snow from entering the hole. Polar Therms also feature telescopic flag wires. Extended, they make flags more visible from a distance or in deep snow.
Advantages: Ultra-smooth trips, easy to use, mechanism won’t freeze, holes always remain open.
Wind Tip-Ups A number of specialty tip-ups are also available. A particularly effective design is HT’s Windlass, which uses wind to jig your presentation. After coming off the spool, your line passes through a spring loaded “rocker arm.” This arm is driven downward against the spring tension by wind. Whenever the wind eases, the adjustable, spring loaded system lifts the rocker arm. Jigging action can be varied depending on wind velocity and the amount of spring tension set by the angler. Since the Windlass incorporates an exposed spool and line, it’s advisable to use a hole cover, particularly during subfreezing temperatures or blustery conditions where ice or blowing snow might otherwise accumulate within the hole and freeze your line.
Advantages: Jigging action keeps baits moving and allows use of lightweight, flashy lures to help attract fish.
If you’re not including tip-ups in your winter strategies, you’re overlooking a fun, highly productive means of icing more fish. Don’t miss out! This winter, try adding tip-ups to your arsenal. You won’t be disappointed.
Magnetic Tip-Ups These ingenious tip-ups feature super-sensitive trips. A tripod stand supports a tube concealing a shaft with a bite indicating flag on top and spring loaded magnet at the
iFish Magazine : : : 21
TIMING THE WINTER WALLEYE BITE
We’ve said it many times before, but it bears repeating again: walleyes are negatively phototactic animals. They see better in the dark than they do in bright light. In fact, they loathe the spotlight. Give them dark options in which to live and they will cling to the shadows even when oxygen levels plummet to near-lethal levels. How light holds sway over a walleye’s behavior is nothing short of remarkable. Especially in the winter, when the big eyed fish’s world is cast in seemingly total darkness, sealed beneath several inches of light blocking ice and snow. Yet, even in this dark eerie coal mine of an environment, a walleye can see the images, details and colors on your lure perfectly, at light levels many thousands of times less than those present where you’re currently reading this page. But that is only half of what you need to know about light triggering winter walleyes to bite. The other piece of the puzzle is that while the fish adore dim lighted conditions, what goads them into feeding is when the light trickling down to where they live changes the most rapidly. In other words, at dawn and dusk. And of the two, dusk is significantly more powerful – regardless of the amount of ice and snow covering the lake, the seasonal winter period, the weather conditions and the absolute amount of light. To put it more simply, it is a scientifically proven fact that walleye feeding peaks 30 minutes before sunset.
The best time to catch walleyes is at dusk and if you can only get out on the ice for an hour or so during the day, late afternoon is unquestionably the best time to do it.
So, the best time to catch walleyes is at dusk and if you can only get out on the ice for an hour or so during the day, late afternoon is unquestionably the best time to do it. But practical ice fishing experience and science also has combined to show us that you can catch walleyes during the day, often quite well, provided you take water clarity and forage options carefully into consideration. Case in point: last winter while filming a walleye segment for the new In-Fisherman ice fishing series, Doug Stange and I fished for mid-February walleyes in a crystal clear lake trout lake. From about 8:30 in the morning until darkness enveloped us at 6:00 o’clock in the evening, we drilled a score of holes around half a dozen prime walleye locations, landing one lake trout around 18-pounds and missing another close to 30-pounds. We also iced more than a dozen yellow perch, two dozen smallmouth bass and an 18-pound northern pike. But we didn’t catch a single walleye, not one, until the plummeting sun hit the horizon around 4:30 in the afternoon. The first few fish were small, which is typically the case, followed by several 17- to 19-inch fish, which is also typical of the pattern. Finally, a group of 20- to 22-inch walleyes flooded up and over the top of the structure. The action was fast in more ways than one. Blink and you would have missed it. Drilled holes on the wrong side of the structure and you wouldn’t have caught a fish. Early in the winter, when the walleyes are at the very tail end of their late fall fattening up feeding frenzy, the sunset bite
iFish Magazine : : : 24
TIMING THE WINTER WALLEYE BITE
on clear water lakes generally lasts a little longer, but we’re only talking an additional 15 to 30 minutes. Ditto at last ice in the spring. During the rest of the winter, however, the fact remains that on clear water Shield-type lakes where walleyes feed primarily on suspended soft-rayed forage fish like ciscoes, shad and smelt, the action is predominately concentrated around prime structural features when light levels diminish the most abruptly. That time is 90 minutes prior to dawn and 30 minutes prior to dusk. Now, compare that with the activity level in a walleye lake with much darker water, only a few miles away from where Doug and I were fishing, where the primary forage is yellow perch. The peak bite on water bodies like this still occurs at dawn and dusk when the rate of light change is most rapid, but you can still catch numbers of nice walleyes throughout the day, provided you fish at the right depth which will vary seasonally based on the thickness of the ice and snow and current daily weather conditions. The important point to emphasize on these stained and/or darker water lakes is that you will find the fish holding near the bottom at depths that correspond to their optimal light levels. In winters, when the ice and snow is thin and the day that you’re fishing is sunny, the walleyes may be 25, 30, even 35 feet or more deep. In colder winters with thicker ice and deeper snow depths, however, you may find the same fish during the day in water as shallow as 17- or 18-feet deep if the weather conditions are cloudy or overcast. The combinations and permutations are obviously limitless; hence, the need to take the variables into account each day and to drill holes in a variety of water depths. It also pays to know how a particular structure is laid out as well as where the edges and sweet spots are located, as walleyes will subtly shift their positions and follow the shadows around a structure during the day as the sun crosses the sky from east to west. And what role do forage fish play in this game of timing the bite? Again, it depends on the lake type, water clarity and light conditions you’re facing.
Now, I’ll admit that what follows is pure speculation on my part, but when ciscoes and smelt are the primary food objects in clear water Shield-type lakes, the baitfish suspend actively in the water column during the day time. I have no doubt that walleyes occasionally pick off a few of these open water wanderers in the winter, but at the same time I’ve caught thousands of tulibees – intentionally for fun as well as for bait, and unintentionally while jigging for whitefish – yet I have never hooked a walleye while doing so. Maybe it is just me, but in the frigid water of winter, in Shield-type lakes with clear water, I believe the warmer water-loving walleyes are simply ill equipped to chase these cold water-loving forage fish in the middle of the frigid water column. So, they bide their time until the tables turn, the advantages shift and the light levels bring the plankton and the plankton feeders shallower and closer to structures at sunset.
iFish Magazine : : : 25
TIMING THE WINTER WALLEYE BITE
In winters, when the ice and snow is thin and the day that you’re ﬁshing is sunny, the walleyes may be 25, 30, even 35 feet or more deep.
In addition, yellow perch, which are always classic walleye food and which also inhabit most of these clear water walleye lakes, have very poor night vision. As a result, they become inactive at dusk and rest on the bottom of the very same points, bars, shelves and reefs when the walleye are invading the structures. It is the reason the last light walleye bite on these clear water Shield-type lakes is typically so condensed, concentrated and turbo-charged. It is a much different story, however, in the somewhat shallower, moderately deep, stained, darker water Shieldtype lakes. Yellow perch are typically far more abundant. Plus, the perch are found around the very same structures that winter walleye favor. In fact, the best sign usually of good things to come, is the fact you’re catching perch while
ice fishing for walleyes. But here is the key: optimal walleye light levels are typically found at, or at least close to the depths at which the perch are dancing. So, while the walleye bite may still peak at dawn and dusk, you can generally catch plenty of fish throughout the day. Which brings us, perhaps, to the ultimate winter walleye scenario. The relatively shallow, flat, featureless lakes with only one or two slightly deeper (less than 20-foot) pockets of richly stained or very dark water where yellow perch provide plenty of food. These are often the lakes where you catch weed walleyes in the summer, only in the winter, you’ll catch the fish throughout the day focusing on the slightly deeper isolated pockets. Better yet, as marvelous as these mundane looking lakes can be in an otherwise normal winter, they shine even brighter when above average ice thicknesses and/or snow depths blanket the surface. The same thing happens if you hit the ice with heavy cloud cover blanketing the sky. Because timing the winter walleye bite, is all about exploiting the fish’s Achilles heel.
The 1, 2, 3’s of Taking Kids Ice Fishing So you want to take your kids ice fishing? Target areas with a high likelihood of success. Most kids are satisfied catching lots of smaller fish such as bluegills rather than catching fewer, bigger fish such as bass. Catching a few fish on the first few outings will peak children’s interest and make them look forward to the next trip. Choose a place that is easy to get to, comfortable and safe. Make sure everyone is dressed warm, bring snacks and a first aid kit. This will make your trip enjoyable for everyone.
Keep them interested. Catching fish is the ultimate goal, try fishing for more catchable fish – Bluegills or Crappies. The chances of catching something is greater then some of the bigger fish. For kids, quantity will matter more than size.
Let the child create their own experience. Allow them to help by giving them easy jobs such as helping mark where the hole will be drilled, cleaning the ice from the holes, or scooping minnows from the minnow bucket. Kids will be more engaged if they aren’t just sitting watching you set everything up. Keep the rules and instructions short and easy to follow. Set a shorter amount of time for actual fishing (1-2 hrs) kids tend to get bored quickly. (This is where the snacks come in) Make sure you enforce safety constantly; no one wants to step in the cold water hole!
Make sure younger kids have life jackets and extra clothes, without fail, their mittens will end up wet. A sled is always a great idea too; many lakes have banks close to shore to keep a smile on their face.
Bring your camera! Kids love to see themselves in photos, and holding that first fish will be a memorable moment.
Above all, have patience. You will be bait hooks and landing fish for them often. On your fishing trips with youngsters, they will get dirty, fall down or even get wet. By taking the time to introduce children to fishing, you may end up with a fishing buddy for life.
How to Find Fish in Winter Story by Tom Gruenwald It may seem overwhelming. Targeting fishing waters, that is, covered by thick layers of ice and snow. From above, it’s hard to believe there’s a colorful, living world concealed below this frozen layer of white, but there is, and within it fish continue their daily activities. Finding them can be intimidating, but strategies are available to make your efforts more efficient and productive.
Know Your Species The most important thing is having an understanding of your target species, their habits, inherent behaviors and preferences, then applying this knowledge to the waters you’re planning to fish. If you know your target species favors specific habitats and is likely to be active during certain daily periods and weather conditions, you can use this to your advantage. Tie this in with an understanding of their preferred forage, the environment you’re fishing and how far the season has progressed, and you can begin to decipher locations that may be productive. For example, if you know your target species prefers feeding on baitfish on mid-depth, gravel bottom structures and known to feed mostly at night during stable weather periods, this
provides a strong start. But now you must apply this basic knowledge to the lake you’ll be fishing. A little research on your target water may reveal it’s a deep, clear water lake with a largely rock/sand bottom and strong population of baitfish that spawn during late winter. A followup call to the region’s biologist may also reveal these baitfish gather on shallow, mid-lake gravel reefs during late ice.
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With such information, you can begin closing in on a solid strategy.
Lake Maps First, obtain a detailed lake map, and identify primary fish attracting structures. Visiting with local biologists, guides or other anglers willing to share information may not only help you find potential structural features, but perhaps even specific reefs that have proven productive in the past.
HOW TO FIND FISH IN WINTER Examine each reef closely, always looking for secondary features such as lengthy points, fingers and extensions featuring distinct turns or breaks, especially those featuring additional fish attracting cover such as rock piles, sand bars, boulders or fish cribs. These locations are more likely to draw larger concentrations of forage—and hence your target fish. Yet each must be prioritized when planning any productive strategy. I recommend noting GPS coordinates for all potential locations, marking those that appear most productive, and numbering them in order of priority. To maximize your efficiency, plan your timing—in this case, perhaps, fishing at night during late winter--then establish an efficient, mobile pattern for covering each feature before entering the respective coordinates into your GPS.
GPS GPS, or global positioning systems, are becoming increasingly popular for ice fishing applications. Small units
attach easily to the dash of a four-wheeler or snowmobile; convenient handheld models can simply be kept in your pocket. Just turn them on, enter your coordinates, and let this technology guide you directly to your pre-determined spots. But this gets even better! Many units not only guide you to specific desired locations, but also feature embedded lake maps revealing details of your target locations, including bottom contours and depths. A step above these embedded maps are charting chips, essentially memory cards encoded with detailed maps of lakes within specific regions. These add cost, but also allow you to download considerably more structural detail, including “satellite overlay,” a feature essentially providing 3-D visual mapping!
Modern technology also offers another cost effective option: Smart Phone Apps. For a relatively small investment, you can download detailed “lake map apps” into your smart phone, then use its GPS feature and app to navigate the ice while enjoying information and tips shared by other anglers—perhaps even those fishing the same waters you are at the same time.
Sonar Once on location, you can confirm what the map has revealed — depth, bottom content,breaks, features—
The All-In-One App for Fishing www.AppsForAnglers.com
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HOW TO FIND FISH IN WINTER
plus forage and fishâ€”using sonar. You can also use underwater cameras, which allow you to visually identify specifically what bottom content type, form of cover, forage and species of fish are present.
By answering these questions, youâ€™ll soon find following this modern system will not only allow you to find more winter fish, but catch them more consistently as well.
Both technologies can also be used to confirm the depth active fish are holding, and noting the conditions, monitor their response to various presentations. Patterns will emerge. Just rig your favorite premium gear to begin the quest. Drill holes throughout the highest potential areas, setting a few tip-ups along select features, and always being sure to cut plenty of extra holes for jigging. Continue using sonar and underwater cameras to place your baits nearest the largest concentrations of fish, and watch how they respond to various presentations. What lure styles, sizes, colors and bait tippers are producing best? What depth? Are fish responding as the baits are being lowered, lifted or held in place? Using what jigging motion, aggressive or gentle?
Wherever you are on May 23rd, you can join Theo Fleury in raising awareness about childhood sexual abuse.
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Please note products that appear in this section have not been tested, nor are endorsed by, the iFish Magazine. We welcome submissions from manufacturers or distributors for this section. Submissions can be sent to: editor@iFishMagazine.com or hard copies to Editor, iFish Magazine, 9320 49th St. Edmonton, AB T6B 2L7
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The inaugural edition of the iFish Magazine, brought to you by AppsForAnglers.com and the iFish Series of Apps.