Ice Team January 2021 Edition

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JANUARY ISSUE | 20-2021

CHANGE IT UP FOR JANUARY SO YOU WANT TO BE

AN ICE FISHING

PLUS! IF YOU AIN’T SEARCHIN’ YOU AIN’T PERCHIN’

GUIDE?

FLAG FISHING PIKE

KEEP MOVING FOR

BE BIG MOVES

ICE FISHING

SHALLOW WATER SUNSET BULLS

SMALL MOVES CAN

SUCCESS

THE NOT SO FAMOUS ICE FISHING SPECIES

KNOW YOUR LINES

WALLEYE HARDWARE



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TABLE OF CONTENTS 06 10 16 19 22 24 28 30 34 36 CHANGE IT UP FOR JANUARY SUCCESS

SO YOU WANT TO BE AN ICE FISHING GUIDE?

DIGITAL Magazine Ice Team Magazine Editors: Matt Johnson Contributing Writers: Mike Frisch, Tim Moore, Bob Jensen, Scott Seibert, Craig Oyler, Jason Mitchell, Ryan Salemi, Barb Carey, Jeff Andersen, and Mike Hungle.

KEEP MOVING FOR ICE FISHING SUCCESS KNOW YOUR LINES

IF YOU AIN’T SEARCHIN’ YOU AIN’T PERCHIN FLAG FISHING PIKE SHALLOW WATER SUNSET BULLS

SMALL MOVES CAN BE BIG MOVES THE NOT SO FAMOUS ICE FISHING SPECIES WALLEYE HARDWARE

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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Top ice angler and lure designed John Crane with a chunky early season walleye. As winter progresses, anglers may need to adjust their methods to maintain ice fishing successes! 6

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CHANGE

IT UP FOR JANUARY SUCCESS By: Mike Frisch Early ice, early winter fishing often calls for the use of jigging spoons to call in and catch aggressive fish. As winter progresses, however, fish get more pressured and their metabolism often slows too. For those reasons, the fish usually get less apt to bite as early winter becomes midseason. There are, however, some things anglers can do to increase their odds for finding mid-winter fishing success. The first recommendation for increasing your midwinter successes is to re-evaluate your fishing spots. Those hot early ice bite spots often become “community spots” by January meaning many of the fish that called them home have left in anglers’ pails! And, the remaining fish have been bombarded by lures and are less likely to bite your bait. Venturing out to new, less pressured areas and staying on the move to try to locate new spots and “fresh” fish is solid advice at this time. If you’re fishing for walleyes, for example, that might mean setting up in new areas several evenings in a row to try to find a productive new spot. Walleyes in lots of lakes are notorious for being lowlight feeders meaning an evening, or morning, bite often is by far and away the best opportunity to ice these fish. Panfish may be more susceptible during daylight, but again some species on some lakes will have peak bites during early morning and again in late afternoon. So, again, hitting new spots to try to find a new bite is important, but so is fishing those peak times. Fishing new spots at the right times is a good midseason tactic, but so is making adjustments to your fishing presentations. Jigging spoons and lures will still attract and iceteam.com

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catch fish, but often I work them less aggressively now. And, when a fish does appear, I always have a “bobber rod” set up next to my jigging rod. The bobber rod often features a lively minnow as bait. And, a walleye or crappie attracted to my jigging spoon but not willing to hit, will often be attracted to the lively, squirming minnow just next to my jigging bait. Lightly hooking minnows behind the dorsal fin, using fresh and lively minnows, and then changing out a “tired” minnow is a good way to up the chances that this bobber set-up gets bit. As simple as it seems, a lively minnow on a plain hook beneath a bobber will often be the best fish producer during a tough bite. Another trick to fooling mid-winter fish with this presentation is to use a barely-floating bobber that easily slides under the water when a fish bites. I use an Ice Buster bobber

because it can be trimmed down so it easily slides under water without alerting a finicky fish that might be spooked by a more buoyant float.

FISHING NEW SPOTS AT THE RIGHT TIMES IS A GOOD MIDSEASON TACTIC, BUT SO IS MAKING ADJUSTMENTS TO YOUR FISHING PRESENTATIONS.

A final bit of advice when pursuing fish during mid-winter fish is the importance of using quality sonar. Carefully watching your sonar will tell you fairly quickly if any fish are in present in a new spot. Sonar can also be very beneficial in helping read

the mood of any fish present, which can help when experimenting with various jigging approaches in an attempt to find one that attracts and triggers some fish. The new FLX-30 sonar I am using has all the fishing features an angler could want, plus it features a lightweight, long lasting lithium battery. Anglers wanting to find more fish during mid-winter would be wise to consider exploring to find new fishing spots and then using some of the presentation tips just outlined. Those tips just might, in fact, help lead to a good ice bite on your next fishing adventure. And, as always, remember to include a youngster in those ice fishing trips! Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest to see more fishing tips and view recent TV

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SO YOU WANT TO BE AN ICE FISHING GUIDE? By: Tim Moore

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or most of my childhood, my dream was to be a professional hunting and fishing guide. My dad loved to fish, and fishing had been in my family for more than five generations before that. I grew up watching shows like The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams (I’m dating myself) and a host of fishing shows, and fishing with my dad every weekend and many week nights. I dreamed of one day guiding people for a living. As I got older, my passion for fishing grew and I began to spend more time dreaming about the guide life. Eventually, through lots of work and a ton of help, I opened a guide service. Now, fifteen years later, I spend a lot of my time dispelling some of the many myths associated with being a full-time guide.

IT MUST BE NICE TO FISH WHENEVER YOU WANT If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone tell me how lucky I am that I get to fish every day, I’d be loaded with nickels. Honestly though, I thought the same thing at

one point. Part of the reason I wanted to be a guide is because I thought it would enable me to fish every day. I discovered the problem with that theory is that in order to be a full-time guide, I would need to run trips at least five days a week. Under most circumstances, you can’t guide and fish at the same time. Most clients wouldn’t put up with it. If the fishing is good, you’re too busy unhooking fish and resetting lines to fish. If the fishing is bad, you’re too busy trying new areas, lures, or techniques to fish. If you’re guiding five days a week for a number of years, by the time you get a day off you’re too tired or have too much maintenance work to do to fish. If you’re as busy as you need to be, you can forget about fishing with your friends on the weekends, because weekend days are always the first to book. What about family events, weddings, or traveling? At the end of the day, I’m self-employed, which means if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I have lost track of all the fun things I have had to pass up because I had already taken a deposit on a trip for that day. Nothing gets

to me more than being on the ice with clients and seeing a group of my friends ride by on snowmobiles on their way to head out fishing together for the day. I love what I do and really enjoy all the cool people I get to help, but after a while I miss my friends. Not only would it be wrong to cancel because something else came up, in this age of technology and social media, word of an undependable guide travels faster than ever. Nothing will get you a bad review faster than canceling on a paying client for no good reason.

HOW HARD CAN IT BE? One common misconception is that any good angler can be a good fishing guide. There’s a lot more to it than just being a good angler. In fact, some days being a good angler has nothing to do with being a good guide. I have found that being good with people and being a good teacher are often the most important aspects of my job. Being able to meet clients on their level, carry on an engaging conversation, explain things in a way the everyone

ONE COMMON MISCONCEPTION IS THAT ANY GOOD ANGLER CAN BE A GOOD FISHING GUIDE. THERE’S A LOT MORE TO IT THAN JUST BEING A GOOD ANGLER. IN FACT, SOME DAYS BEING A GOOD ANGLER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING A GOOD GUIDE.

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can understand without talking down to people, keep spirits high when the bite is tough and not get frustrated, make sure everyone is comfortable and safe. Oh yeah, and putting your clients on fish. These are just some of the things I had to learn over the years. There is a lot that goes into a successful guided trip beyond just catching fish. Most days, fishing is the easy part. Being able to anticipate the needs of my clients is some days harder than others. To be successful, you need to be a good angler and you need to be good with people. At the end of the day, guiding is a customer service job and we all know how much bad customer service can impact an experience.

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IT’S ONLY FISHING. WHY ARE YOU SO TIRED? Listen to any full-time ice fishing guide long enough and you’ll eventually hear most of them make reference to the “guide grind.” Being an ice fishing Guide is a grind. The days are long, often beginning when it’s dark, and ending when it’s dark, and it’s cold. Anything that is hard when it’s warm out is even harder when it’s cold. I often tell my clients that they could literally just stand still on the ice all day and they’d be tired at the end of the day, just from trying to stay warm. The average human burns 2000 calories a day under normal circumstances. Being outside on a frozen lake is considered extreme to most “normal” people. Under extreme cold circumstances, you can increase the number of calories burned to around 4000 per day! I wear clothing from Ice Armor by Clam. I wear a base layer, a good two-layer sock system, and have the Rise and Ascent Suits, so I stay warm, but my body is still working to keep my head, feet, and hands warm, plus I’m actively taking care of clients, drilling holes, moving gear, etc. My normal days is twelve hours long, with eight of those hours spent on the ice. By the time I get home at the end of the day of “just fishing” I’m exhausted. After I sting fiver or so days like that together I’m usually cross-eyed I’m so tired. 12

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THE GOOD NEWS Yes, there is good news. It’s easy to sound dull, discouraging, or ungrateful when clarifying to someone that guiding isn’t as easy as they think. At the end of the day, it’s still a job, and it’s a tough one, but it has many more pros than cons. I may not be able to fish as much as I used to, but I’m on the ice almost every day. I’ve seen more amazing sunrises than I can count, I’ve helped make memories for countless people that will last a lifetime, I have been personally responsible for numerous personal best catches, I’ve had the good fortune of spending days on the ice with some amazing and inspiring people, I’ve made lasting friendships, my work as a guide has introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever known, and I get to

use the best gear on the market. All the work and grinding it out aside, I have the best job on the planet. I’m still trying to figure out how to make being an ice fishing guide easy. Until then, there’s nothing I’d rather be this tired from. Tim Moore is a full-time professional fishing guide from New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC. He is a member of the Clam Outdoors and Ice Team pro staff. Visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.

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STAND YOUR GROUND.

APEX The most convenient way to ensure your tailbone won’t meet that hellaciously hard ice, just strap the Apex Ice Cleat on, grab your auger and start punching holes knowing there’s no ice condition these babies can’t sink their teeth into. 20 MULTI-DIRECTIONAL, SAW-TOOTH STAINLESS CLEATS FOR THE ULTIMATE TRACTION AND QUICK MOBILITY.

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By: Bob Jensen 16

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s the ice on lakes and ponds gets thicker across the ice fishing belt, our ice-fishing tactics should change for more ice fishing success. Early in the year, when the ice was thin, a more stationary approach was usually more productive. Fish under thin ice can detect movement better, and movement from above can spook them. The angler that sits on a good spot and doesn’t move much will often be more successful early in the ice season. As the ice gets thicker and snow gets deeper on top of the ice, an angler’s movement isn’t as much of a consideration. Thicker ice and deeper snow on the ice limit a fish’s ability to see what’s going on above. An angler’s movements probably won’t spook the fish much if at all. For the next few weeks, even until the end of the ice fishing season, the anglers that move the most will increase their odds for ice fishing success. Now is when some of the most successful anglers on the ice implement a plan that they often refer to as “trolling on ice”, or “hole-hopping”. They drill holes on a structure at various depths and locations and move quickly from hole to hole. Electric augers like the K-Drill are very lightweight, so drilling holes in a large area is a simple and quiet task. These anglers keep moving, just like you would when trolling open water in a boat. Or, they might not be fishing structure. Sometimes big flat areas are home to roaming schools of fish, mostly perch and crappies, but also walleyes and pike in some lakes. If this is the case, “holehopping” anglers pop a bunch of holes on a more random basis and again, they just keep moving. This trolling on ice can be as complex as you want it to be. With GPS and mapping chips and such, it’s possible to go right to a structure and be very close to the area on the structure that you’re looking for. You

can start drilling holes near or on the exact spots that you think will hold fish. Or you can employ the strategy that many of us have used for a long time. Use shoreline markings or your memory to find the spot that you’re looking for. Your sonar will reveal when you’ve found the fish. It will certainly take longer, but that method still works. Now that you’ve got holes drilled in the area to be fished, it’s time to drop a bait. Although we won’t be spending much time at any hole unless we see fish, it still works well to move from hole to hole pulling your portable shelter. You can carry all your equipment in the portable. By having all your equipment in the shelter, you can explore nearby areas when you get to the end of your “trolling” run.

Many ice anglers have learned how to determine a fish’s attitude by watching the sonar. If a fish comes in quickly and eats the bait, they’re aggressive. If they come in slowly and look at the bait carefully, they’re not so aggressive. Modify your lure choice and action by the way the fish behave. If they don’t want to eat what you put down there, continue your “trolling pass”. Move to a different hole. If you keep moving on the ice this time of year and until the end of the ice fishing season, your chances for ice fishing success will greatly improve.

FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, EVEN UNTIL THE END OF THE ICE FISHING SEASON, THE ANGLERS THAT MOVE THE MOST WILL INCREASE THEIR ODDS FOR ICE FISHING SUCCESS.

Also, they’re a lot more comfortable to fish from and they provide a windbreak when needed. The folks at Clam are the pioneers and leaders in creating portable shelters. They have units with features that will appeal to any angler who wants to “troll” on the ice. As we move from hole to hole, we’re going to let our sonar unit tell us how long we should stay at that hole. Drop a bait and if nothing shows up in a few minutes, move to the next hole. Some anglers give the fish a couple minutes to show up, others wait maybe five or ten minutes for a fish to reveal their presence. It seems like the most successful anglers do the most moving this time of year.

This father/son team “hole-hopped” in search of perch. They found some nice ones. To see recent episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, fishing articles and fishing tips, visit fishingthemidwest.com

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KNOW YOUR LINES By: Scott Seibert

TIPS TO HELP YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT ICE LINE EVERY TIME

O

f all the ways to improve your changes of sliding more (and larger) fish onto the ice this winter, few are as easy and inexpensive as spooling up with high-quality line that fits your style of fishing and the conditions at hand. Much has been said and written about choosing the right fishing lines, but given the multitude of options available to anglers, many questions remain. In fact, the most frequently asked questions I get at seminars, sport shows, retailers and on the lakes focus on line. To help you choose the right line for the presentation, species and situation, following are a few of my thoughts on which line to use, when.

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Clam Frost Ice Monofilament is a favorite choice when pursuing a variety of species. Monofilament— or mono—line is easy to use. It also stretches more than superlines and more easily than fluorocarbons, so there’s built-in “forgiveness” if your drag sticks or a big fish makes a quick run or violent head-shake that could break the line or tear the hook loose. I use clear mono most of the time, but Clam’s metered options, which feature alternating clear and colored sections, make it easy to see bites, which is critical in line-watching presentations. Note: When using metered line, tie your lure to the clear—not colored—section, to avoid spooking fish. Break strength is a key consideration. Some anglers prefer heavy line, but today’s highperformance rods and reels do a great job of helping you fight the fish, so there’s no need to overdo it. I use as light a pound test as possible to reduce the chance of spooking line-shy fish and to improve lure action. Three-pound-test mono is a good all-around pick for panfish. I also carry reels loaded with 1- and

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2-pound test for finessing finicky ’gills and crappies, while 4-pound test excels for jumbo perch.

Winnipeg to chase giant greenbacks, however, I switch to 10-pound-test Clam Frost Braid mainline. Frost Braid is abrasion resistant and has virtually no stretch, for rock-solid hooksets with trophy walleyes—even in deep water. Superbraids also help you feel light bites and work wonders with other fish species. Just keep in mind that braid tends to freeze up in colder temperatures, so it’s ideal for fishing outside in above-freezing temperatures, and inside a heated shelter.

CLAM FROST ICE MONOFILAMENT IS A FAVORITE CHOICE WHEN PURSUING A VARIETY OF SPECIES. MONOFILAMENT—OR MONO— LINE IS EASY TO USE.

For most walleye situations, I favor 5- or 6-pound clear monofilament, or orange/clear and red/clear metered mono. When heading to Lake

Because braid is easy for fish to see, I tie a swivel to the end of the mainline, followed by a 2-foot leader of 8-pound Clam Frost Fluorocarbon—which is virtually invisible underwater. Fluorocarbon offers other benefits including great hooking power and is also more sensitive and abrasion resistant than mono, so it makes a fine mainline. As a bonus, Clam’s Frost fluoros offer extremely low memory and are designed to stay supple and manageable in the cold. I plan on factoring them into more of my ice fishing adventures this winter, and recommend you do the same.

SAFE FISHING!


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IF YOU AIN’T SEARCHIN’ YOU AIN’T PERCHIN’ By: Craig Oyler

If you have ever ice fished for perch on one of the many reservoirs throughout the ice belt, you will have undoubtedly seen guys drilling tons of holes and constantly moving from hole to hole with their flashers looking for fish. That style of fishing (also known as “run & gun” fishing) is a popular way to fish for perch in deeper lakes and reservoirs. The theory behind this is that the perch are always on the move looking for food, zooplankton in particular. The zooplankton will float through the water column at a particular depth, and where you find them, the perch are usually not too far behind. While searching for perch, many guys will drill their holes in a grid type pattern, often times drilling up to 100 holes before ever starting to fish. Once the grid is drilled, the 22

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angler will either walk, or ride on an ATV, going from hole to hole. Once at each hole, they will check it with their Vexilar, and look for suspended fish. Since the perch are busy following the zooplankton around, it is not worth fishing a hole that shows no fish on the Vexilar. You simply pull up the transducer, and move to the next one. When you find a hole with fish below it, you will know immediately. On the flasher, you will not mark individual fish, but the whole pod of fish. I have seen it before when in 80 feet of water, the school of perch will take up 30 feet of the water column. For the most part, the perch will show suspended 30 to 60 feet below the ice. How to fish for perch 50 feet below the ice? There are many things that you can use for bait, but the most

important factor is weight. Being able to get your jig in front of the perch before they move is key. I prefer spoon style jigs like the Speed Spoon from Clam Outdoors. It’s heavy and slender so it falls through the water fast, and it has a dropper chain with a small hook, so the fish are not intimidated to bite it. The Bomb Spoon from Clam is another great jig to use while chasing deep water perch. Fishing with a small group of friends is a fun way to target these perch as well. When one of us finds the fish, we will call the other guys over in hopes of us all catching some before we lose them and have to start searching again. Being efficient is another important factor while run and gun fishing. Most guys that spend a lot of time doing it will set up their ATV to be as efficient


as possible. Ice fishermen in general are a pretty creative group of guys, and many of them will spend the time during the off season to build their own racks and storage systems to effectively hold everything they need to fish primarily off of their ATV. Since each fisherman’s style is a little bit different, these storage systems come in all shapes and sizes. My personal rig is a side by side with racks and brackets to hold everything I need for a day on the ice. I have two auger mounts, one for a 6’ auger, and one for an 8”. Both are cordless drill powered, so I can be as fast and efficient as possible when punching my numerous holes.

to the fish, you are forced to keep it, so a person will pay strict attention to how the fish fights in hopes of determining the size of the fish. If the fish feels too small to keep, reeling it up slowly greatly decreases the chances of it popping. The next time you are ice fishing on a reservoir, and you see a group of guys searching, don’t be afraid to ask if you can join them in the hunt for perch. Not only are most of them very friendly, and eager to help you learn the search method, but they often are looking for one more person to help drill holes and look for fish.

On the dash of my side by side is the GPS. Marking waypoints and routes of fish movement from years past has helped us narrow our search. Hanging off a bracket on the side is the Vexilar. Mounting the Vexilar on the side was one of the most efficient upgrades I made. While searching for perch, I can drive up to a hole, and drop the Vexilar transducer in it and immediately see if there is fish there. I will continue this process until I mark a school of fish, as mentioned earlier. On the back is a custom rack that is designed to hold two Clam Scout ice shacks, if the school stays in one area long enough, I can set up a shack to get out of the elements. That’s not the only purpose for having the shack mounted there though. I also use it to store my rods, tackle, and bait. Once a school of fish is found, all the tools necessary to catch the fish are sitting in the shack waiting for me. I simply turn around grab my favorite rod, make sure it is baited and drop the bait down the hole as quickly as possible.

MY PERSONAL RIG IS A SIDE BY SIDE WITH RACKS AND BRACKETS TO HOLD EVERYTHING I NEED FOR A DAY ON THE ICE... WHILE SEARCHING FOR PERCH, I CAN DRIVE UP TO A HOLE, AND DROP THE VEXILAR TRANSDUCER IN IT AND IMMEDIATELY SEE IF THERE IS FISH THERE. I WILL CONTINUE THIS PROCESS UNTIL I MARK A SCHOOL OF FISH, AS MENTIONED EARLIER.

The only negative to fishing for perch in deeper water is the risk of “popping” the perch while reeling them in. Popping is when the perches air bladder pops from the change in pressure from coming out of the deeper water. Since it is fatal iceteam.com

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By: Jason Mitchell For targeting big pike, nothing is as effective as running large spreads of tip ups with dead bait. Jason Mitchell offers some simple insights on how to use tip ups to catch big pike.

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ig northern pike have always fascinated me. While pike are indeed abundant across the upper Midwest and beyond, big pike that surpass the thirty-five-inch mark can be much more difficult to find. Trophy class pike don’t live everywhere and not every fishery can produce big fish but few fish get me as excited as big pike. Right now, in the Midwest, some of the best big pike fisheries include Lake of the Woods and the Missouri River reservoirs; Lake Sakakawea, Fort Peck and Lake Oahe. Upper Red Lake, Devils Lake and other fisheries are also noteworthy but of course the key to finding upper end pike is to fish water where they live.

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The classic big pike opportunity takes place at late ice where big fish concentrate in creek arms or in front of incoming tributaries. Much of this late ice fishing is relatively shallow, often less than ten feet of water. Many fisheries however do offer a crack at trophy class fish through midwinter. We often find big pike using prominent main lake structure and rock reefs through January and February. On Devils Lake where we live, we find a lot of big pike on primary points in depths between eight to twenty feet of water during the middle of winter. On Lake of the Woods, we have caught big pike off rock structure. In the big reservoirs out west, the primary and secondary points leading back into the larger bays often hold pike through the winter. Point being is that you don’t have to wait until late ice to target and catch big pike. You can target and catch pike a lot of different ways including jigging with soft plastic swim baits, glide baits or spoons. If big pike are available in a fishery, there is a good chance that you will have some incidental encounters while fishing for walleye and other species. For specifically targeting big fish however, nothing beats a spread of tip ups for simply catching fish. The number of tip ups allowed per angler will vary from state to state but use as many tip ups as you legally can. Spread the tip ups out as far as you can legally tend. There is an adage that big baits often catch big fish and that often rings true with pike. Large frozen dead baits like smelt, herring, cisco or anchovy can work extremely well and often work better than any live bait. Bait sizes might range between six to thirteen inches long. Live sucker minnows and creek chubs can also work well for big pike where legal and live minnows will also get you more incidental big walleye catches over time however we have caught some huge walleyes over the years on frozen dead baits rigged and fished for pike. 26

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For rigging tip ups, the classic black Dacron line I find still works best as I don’t like the memory or stretch of the plastic-coated lines. Heavier test like forty-pound rolls off the spool easier and doesn’t bite into itself or cut into the bottom of the hole as much when handling a big fish. Go heavy on the Dacron and make sure all your components are heavy duty. Use heavy duty swivels and some type of quick strike tandem treble hook rig that should match the size of your bait. Over the last five years, I have been

YOU CAN TARGET AND CATCH PIKE A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS INCLUDING JIGGING WITH SOFT PLASTIC SWIM BAITS, GLIDE BAITS OR SPOONS. IF BIG PIKE ARE AVAILABLE IN A FISHERY, THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THAT YOU WILL HAVE SOME INCIDENTAL ENCOUNTERS WHILE FISHING FOR WALLEYE AND OTHER SPECIES. FOR SPECIFICALLY TARGETING BIG FISH HOWEVER, NOTHING BEATS A SPREAD OF TIP UPS FOR SIMPLY CATCHING FISH.

using heavier fluorocarbon much more and gotten away from steel or titanium leader material. I find that a spool of forty-to-sixty-pound fluorocarbon is much cheaper and easier to tie our own rigs with. When analyzing structure and spreading out tip ups, the best strategy I have seen is to fence off structure. Run your tip ups in a perpendicular line across the structure so that each hole covers a different contour or depth. If

Ice Digital November Issue

a pike moves across a piece of structure, it swims by a bait. We seldom follow contours but will move tip ups and slide them across the structure shallow or deep as a pattern develops. Especially for waiting out big fish bite windows, you sometimes need some patience. Overall, mornings and evenings often see more intense activity but that big bite can happen anytime during the day. Of course, compared to walleye fishing and many other ice fishing bites, pike are notorious for moving and biting anytime during the day. What always amazes me is watching these windows occur in a large spread of tip ups. You can have an hour of inactivity and then have a flag pop. Sixty yards away and less than a minute later, another flag pops up. The impact that weather along with majors and minors with moon position becomes much more apparent when surveying multiple tip ups spread out over a large area. The classic spool below water tip up design that features a lubricated spindle has been around for an awful long time and nothing has really changed or drastically improved on this design for over thirty years. Chances are, you might have a bucket of tip ups in the garage. If you don’t own any tip ups, tip ups are relatively cheap. Even though tip ups might be considered old school with some ice anglers, don’t discount the fun or effectiveness of this fishing style or method. Especially if the target is big toothy pike, there are few things more deadly than sitting on key locations with big dead bait.


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SHALLOW WATER SUNSET BULLS

By: Ice Team Pro Ryan Salemi

A

vid panfish anglers are well aware of the magic crappie bite that can occur at dusk and often last well into the evening... but did you know there can also be an insane Bluegill bite that occurs up in relatively shallower water just before and during sunset hours?

AS THE SUN BEGINS TO SET, THESE BIGGER GILLS MOVE UP ONTO SHALLOW MUD FLATS (TYPICALLY ANYWHERE IN THAT 6 TO 11FOW RANGE) AND SHALLOWER WEED LINES IN THOSE SAME RELATIVE DEPTHS AND BEGIN TO STALK THEIR PREY. THIS FEEDING WINDOW IS SHORT AND CAN HAPPEN VERY QUICKLY SO IT’S BEST TO SET UP A PRE-GAME PLAN IN ORDER TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

Bluegills are often notorious for providing lots of action throughout the ice season, at times, non-stop action for anglers of all ages and skill sets. However, there are Bluegills and then there are Bull Bluegills, gills that can push the tape measure 9.50” to 11.50”...true predators in their own right! Though the term “predator” is usually associated with larger species 28

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such as Walleyes, Northern Pike, or Lake Trout...there’s no question that these special breed bulls earn the title of predator seeking out and punishing larger shallow water bugs and at times, even small baitfish during prime feeding windows. One of the best times to search out and hook up with these bulls is during the sunset time frame. As the sun begins to set, these bigger gills move up onto shallow mud flats (typically anywhere in that 6 to 11fow range) and shallower weed lines in those same relative depths and begin to stalk their prey. This feeding window is short and can happen very quickly so it’s best to set up a pregame plan in order to be successful. I always start by drilling my holes on these mud flats and weed lines as the clock approaches 3:30pm. You’ll want to drill yourself a zig zag line grid spaced out between 3’ and 5’ apart (approx. 10 to 15 holes long) in order to keep pace with this quick paced bite. I will then let the holes settle and come back to fish them about a half hour later, closer to sunset. I then start pounding the bottom with my favorite bug plastic or a juiced-up wax worm (a wax worm pinched so the internal juices are coming out) this creates an irresistible scent and presentation in the water that big gills absolutely love. Working your grid thoroughly and paying attention to detail during these peak feeding hours can result in some of your biggest gills of the season!


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SMALL MOVES

CAN BE

BIG M By: Barb Carey

E

ver have one of those OMG moments, when the fish you just pulled out of the hole is one of the biggest you have ever seen? That is how this season is going for me and I couldn’t be happier. I have caught more 14-inch crappies this year than I have in the last 5 years combined. Success has to do with fishing waters that hold big fish, but also coaxing those bigger smarter fish out of hiding. One lake I fish has thick weed cover. There is Eurasian watermilfoil, coontail, pondweed, and one deep 22-foot hole. The water is clear and there are even tall weeds in the deeper water. You can catch crappies and big gills out of the same hole, but it seems as if there are only a small number of fish per patch of weeds. Unlike some lakes where crappies roam in packs, I am finding that the crappies on this lake congregate in

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OFTENTIMES, I HAVE FOUND THE WEEDS SO THICK RIGHT UNDER THE HOLE, THE BAIT IS HARD FOR THE FISH TO LOCATE. THIS IS A GREAT TIME TO MAKE A SMALL MOVE. LANDING ON TOP OF A SMALL OPENING OR POCKET WITHIN THE WEEDS CAN REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I HAVE FISHED A HOLE FOR SOME TIME AND NEVER HAD A BITE, DRILL 5 FEET AWAY AND ITS BITE AFTER BITE.

much smaller groups. Hiding out in small groups in thick weeds makes the hunt a little more challenging. Search baits such as small Tikka Minnows and spoons that flutter way off to the side are nearly impossible to fish. I usually start drilling holes in the 8-to-10-foot contours and work my way out to deeper water. One day the fish will be in the 8-to-12-foot range and then next out in the deeper weeds and the next back in the shallow water areas. I don’t know if the fish are moving back and forth, or if I am finding new fish. I do know that finding weed patches that have not been fished yet, yields the biggest fish. On a recent trip, I looked for a spot that had snow cover that had no signs of tracks on it and started in that area. Boom, big crappie. One key is to be able to decipher the Vexilar, as the screen fills with clutter with the thick vegetation. I


MOVES put my FLX -28 on low power mode to eliminate much of the marks that are weeds. My jig of choice is a Clam Drop Kick jig tipped with a Maki plastic. I start jigging right on the very top of the weeds and see if I can detect any movement from below. The tall, top-heavy weeds seem to move, which causes some fluttering in the lines of the flasher which can be confusing to new anglers. There are usually some open spaces between the lines on the Vexilar, and I will work my way down in the water column to fish right above each opening. When I see any upward movement from below me, I know it’s a fish. It’s situations like these, that are perfect for an underwater camera. Dropping the Aqua-Vu down the hole will give you an idea of the condition of the weeds, and the fish that are hanging out in between them. Oftentimes, I have found the weeds so thick right under the hole, the bait iceteam.com

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is hard for the fish to locate. This is a great time to make a small move. Landing on top of a small opening or pocket within the weeds can really make a difference. I have fished a hole for some time and never had a bite, drill 5 feet away and its bite after bite.

Here are a few other tips to help you find success: •

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I prefer plastics when I am in ‘search’’ mode, because you don’t need to re-bait in between holes. The Maki plastic stays soft and pliable and the scent keeps the fish interested.

It’s important to use a light enough rod so the rod is “loaded” with the weight of your jig. The Nitinol Spring Bobber is a great addition to a rod that you can’t detect a bite on. If the rod tip is “loaded” any upward motion of the tip is a bite, so set the hook. As Dave Genz says, “feel the jig”, and if you don’t

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Ice Digital November Issue

feel it, set the hook. I love the metered Frost Ice Line and I prefer the three-pound test in the color orange. Any movement in the line is also time to give a hook set.

Find spots that have not been fished hard. Resist the urge to set up over preexisting holes, thinking the anglers before you were on to something.

If you have trouble seeing your jig with all the clutter on the screen, it’s a good time to go up a size. The Duck Bill jig is somewhat wider and has a larger profile, making it easier to stand out. The fish love that horizontal presentation. Adding a Maki such as the Jamie XL gives the bait a bigger profile.

Resist the urge to fish memories. The biggest fish I have caught so far this year were on new spots that I had not fished before.

Remember to practice selective harvesting of these big panfish. Removing the best reproducing fish can really do damage to the population.

If you find the weeds are dark and lifeless, move to another area and concentrate on weeds that still have some bright green color to them. Coaxing finicky fish out of thick weed cover can be a lot of fun. Usually every outing, a big mark appears out of nowhere and a fun pike fight breaks out. Nothing like a screaming drag in an ultralight rod!

I wish you the best of luck this season, and remember, sometimes small moves are big moves.


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33


THE

O M A F O S T

NO

ICE FISHIN By: Jeff “Jiggy” Andersen, Ice Team Pro

A

s an Ice Angler who has been blessed to fish for so many species all across the ice belt I have been lucky to experience so many different bites to chase. There is no doubt the walleye, perch and crappie get the most attention with a close second, probably my favorite, the Lake Trout getting the fame. All three are excellent table fair and can be found all across the Midwest. There’s a good reason why they are top of the list but I have found a new species that provides a great challenge, a super fight, and are abundant in so many lakes that I would bet is close to you! The Bass. Yep there isn’t much copy about chasing Bass through the ice and I can tell you they are a blast. Both Small and Largemouth bass have my attention and the past few years have been some of my 34

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most memorable days on the ice. Recently I just wrapped up filming with Ice Team Pro Jason Durham on a mission to chase down Smallmouth Bass in Northern Minnesota. Jason was the guide on this trip and I was the student. To say the day was great would be selling it short. It was truly an amazing experience filled with tons of smallmouth topside and some really big ones! Every single day on the ice I view as an experiment. Take in as much information as possible and when it comes down to it find the fish, adapt your presentation to the situation and learn what triggers that fish to bite. My success on the ice is really built around that concept. Lucky for me Jason had the fish located from his fall fishing endeavors but we still had to drill a set of holes on the rock reef. Our presentation was the

Clam Drop Jig XXL with the Maki Silkie jig trailer paired up either a Maki Spiiki or Mino.

LOCATION Lets talk smallmouth location. As you hear me mention Jason had found these fish in the fall while fishing out of his boat. Like so many species if they are there in the fall they are usually there during early ice. This was a deeper rock structure that leads into super deep water. Prime smallie habitat with huge bolders. Other areas to consider are lakes with shallower main lake holes. Many would refer to these as wintering holes but Jason said he has found more active fish using the big bolder structures.

PRESENTATION With both Largemouth and Smallmouth the smaller compact


S U O

NG SPECIES presentation seems to be key. The Drop Jig XXL is small but heavy with a large gap hook. These are key features! The Silkie ads some bulk but more importantly a life like movement like no other and to top it off the Maki plastic added the finishing touch. White was the color of choice.

Last Ice Season I filmed a largemouth piece. It was very similar endeavor to the aforementioned but a change in location. I found them very close shallow weed edges sitting in the pockets but the memory was the same, hard fighting and lots of action.

THE FINISH

If your goal this ice season is to get the crew together and fry up some fish I wouldn’t say this bite is for you but if you are looking for a chance to really hone your jig stroke combined with the study of your electronics to put fish on the ice bass is a species that undoubtedly will provide much opportunity!

So we had the first two key elements dialed in and now my job is to study with an eagle eye to how they wanted the jig moved. Listening to Jason’s advise it wasn’t a fast pull away but more of a slow keep away game with a rise of the jig all while using very short rod shakes keeping that beauty of a presentation moving in the water. The bites at times seemed very subtle. Line watching was key to detect the bite but after we hooked up it was a battle!

You can watch both the Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass show on my YouTube channel located at Jeff Andersen Fishing. Be Great! iceteam.com

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35


WALLEYE HARDWARE By: Mike Hungle

W

inter walleye fishing requires a good selection of lures to be able to consistently put walleye on the ice day after day. Some days call for a finesse approach with minnows suspended from tiny jigs such as the Clam Tungsten Drop Jig. On other days jigging spoons like the Leech Flutter Spoon with their erratic slow back and forth drops will provide success. Yet on other days, the walleye will prefer to hit a vertical swimbait presentation such as the Tikka Minnow. When selecting walleye lures keep in mind that every lure has its own unique action and even changing between sizes of the same lure will change the action. For example, heavier spoons will fall to the bottom quicker than lighter spoons and hit the bottom with a more solid thud. Lighter spoons will drop more slowly and depending on their shape, they’ll drop and fall more erratically. They’ll also strike the bottom with less of a thud but will still disturb bottom silt when they hit bottom. Minnow colored lures such as silver, 36

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brass and gold work great as they give off lots of flash and glare as they move through the water column. Its best to match the lure colors to those of the local baitfish such as perch, shiners and cisco. On days when the traditional colors aren’t working, try something totally different like white, pink or chartreuse. When jigging for walleye, try to find a jigging motion that attracts the fish. Since most of the action will take place near the bottom, periodically bounce your lure off the bottom to create noise and silt. Don’t be afraid to partially lift the lure from the bottom and twitch it to represent a fish or crayfish trying to dig into the bottom to hide. I personally like to start my outings using a jigging spoon. While I work the jigging spoon, I’ll watch my Vexilar Flasher to see how the fish react to my offering. If the fish take my offering, I’ll continue using jigging spoons. If the fish won’t hit jigging spoons but follow it or stick around, I’ll switch over to a vertical approach after trying a few different sizes and colors of jigging spoons. However, if

the fish move away from the jigging spoons, then I’ll try fishing with jigs and minnow. There are varied opinions with respect to using terminal tackle while walleye fishing. Some anglers never use snaps and swivels, while other anglers will never fish without them. As for myself, if I’m using a subtle approach with a jig and minnow, I’ll tie the jigs directly to my line. Doing so reduces the profile that I’m presenting to the walleye. In addition, tying the jig directly to the line allows me to position the jig and minnow to hang totally horizontally. However, if I’m aggressively jigging I’ll always use a barrel swivel in-line about 6 to 9 inches up from my lure to avoid line twist from the jigging motions and tumbling lures. In addition, I’ll attach my lures to my line with a small cross lock snap so I can make lure changes quickly and easily. Speaking of fishing line, try using as light of line as possible The reason for this is twofold. First off, lighter line gives you more feeling and sensitivity to detect even the lightest of bites. Secondly, light line allows lures to


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tumble and fall in an unrestricted manner so they can work to their fullest extent. I typically use a line with a breaking strength of 6 pounds. The key to being able to find and switch hooks on go is being organized. Start with a small tackle bag or a back pack. Then put all your hooks into storage containers that will fit into your tackle bag/pack. The Clam Jig Box and Super Slim Jig Box work excellent for keeping jigs organized and ready for action. The Deluxe Spoon Box is a great way to store jigging spoons and keep them getting tangled and damaged. Finally, a slotted tackle tray will work perfectly for storing all your Tikka Minnows.


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