Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

This article will cover the best live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida. While artificial lures certainly produce plenty of fish, many anglers saltwater fishing in Florida do so using live bait. This is understandable, why use an imitation when you can use the real thing? The top live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida are shrimp, shiners, pin fish and grunts, mullet, crabs, and sand fleas.

live bait fishing in Florida

Some of these live baits are available for purchase at Florida bait and tackle shops. Live shrimp are a good example of this. Other baits such as shiners need to be caught by the angler. There are even “bait boats”which will go out and catch live bait fish and sell them to anglers right from their boat. Anglers can keep up to date on Florida recreational fishing regulations on the FWC site.

Live shrimp is the #1 Florida fishing bait

A live shrimp is undoubtedly the number one saltwater fishing bait in Florida. Shrimp are available at every bait and tackle shop along the coast. They are the “nightcrawler” of saltwater; every species that swims will eat one. Shrimp can be caught by anglers using a cast net. However, the vast majority of shrimp used for bait are purchased at shops.

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Shrimp are fairly easy to keep alive. In the cooler months, they are very easy to keep alive. Often times, an angler can keep a couple dozen in a bucket of cool water without even using an aerator. However, in the warmer months with the water much over 70°, shrimp will become listless without some aeration. Anglers with boats usually have some type of bait well with either an aerator or a pump that recirculates the water and error rates it. Anglers without a boat use small battery-powered aerators to keep their shrimp alive.

Using live shrimp for bait in Florida

Shrimp can be hooked in a variety of fashions and fished using multiple rigs. A live shrimp under a popping cork is an extremely effective combination for catching speckled trout and other species on the grass flats. The court not only suspends the shrimp at the desired depth, it actually helps attract the fish when twitched sharply. Shrimp can be free lined on the flats as well. This involves simply hooking the shrimp and letting it swim naturally in the current.

fishing with live bait in florida

Shrimp are also the number one choice for anglers bottom fishing. Many of the species in Florida are found around submerged structure such as docs, rocks, seawalls, bridges, and wrecks. A live shrimp fished on the bottom will fool Sheepshead, snapper, grouper, flounder, and just about every other inshore species. This is very basic fishing. Anglers use various rigs and some type of weight to keep the bait on the bottom near the structure.

Live shiners are a terrific live bait for Florida saltwater anglers

Shiners is a generic Florida term for several families of small silvery baitfish. These include scaled sardines, also known as pilchards, threadfin herring, and Spanish sardines. Shiners, or white bait, are a terrific bait for a wide variety of species. These bait fish are found in large schools either on the flats or just offshore around markers and other structure. Anglers seeking a lot of bait catch them with a cast net. Those who only need a few baits can jig them up using a Sibiki rig.

Florida Spanish mackerel fishing

In most cases, anglers catch their own shiners. There is a technique called “live bait chumming” were anglers use these live fish to attract game fish to the boat. This requires a lot of bait, and purchasing it would not be practical. Therefore, anglers catch their own. Shiners will die quickly if not properly taken care of. They need a constant re-changing of the water supply. This makes it impractical to fish with large numbers of shiners from the shoreline, though a dozen or two can be kept in a bucket for a little while.

When the bait is easy, anglers can put close to 1000 baits in the well in fairly short order. In some parts of Florida, guys go out early and catch a bunch of bait and sell them right from the boat. Prices and availability vary by location. Most sell the bait by the scoop. Considering the time saved, this can be a viable option.

Shiner fishing techniques

Shiners are most often free lined. This means that they are allowed to swim with just a hook in them and no other weight to hinder their movements. A split shot or two can be used to get them down in current. They are terrific baits for catching snook, redfish, jacks, trout, Spanish mackerel, and other species along mangrove shorelines and on the inshore grass flats.

mangrove snapper fishing in Florida

Shiners are very productive on bottom species such as grouper and snapper as well. Offshore anglers use them to chum up tuna and other species off of area reefs and wrecks. In this application, they are generally fished on basic Carolina rig style bottom rigs.

Fishing with live pinfish and grunts

Pinfish and grunts will be covered in one section, as a are quite similar. Both are small baitfish that kind of resemble freshwater sunfish. Pin fish are a bit rounder while grunts are a tad more elongated. Pin fish have a row of needle sharp dorsal fins, this is how they get their name. Grunts are aptly named as they make a grunting sound when in distress. Of the two, grunts are generally more desirable and pin fish are more readily available.

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Some bait shops sell live pin fish and grunts, it just depends upon the area and the demand. Both pin fish and grunts do need some type of aeration or water exchanged in order to stay a live and active. Pinfish and grunts can be caught on the shallow grass flats using small hooks and pieces of shrimp were squid. They can also be caught and cast nets using canned cat food to chum them up behind the boat.

Smaller pin fish and grunts from the size of a quarter up to about 3 inches along are excellent when used in the inshore waters. They can be free lined or fished under a cork and will catch speckled trout in a variety of species. Larger pin fish and grunts are used when targeting larger fish. Snook, grouper, cobia, amberjack, tarpon, sharks, and other species will take a hand sized bait.

best shark bait

Live mullet are productive live baits in Florida

Mullet are a very popular live bait for anglers fishing in Florida. Like other bait fish, they are sometimes available at local bait and tackle shops but in most instances anglers catch their own. Most often, anglers use a cast net to procure them. Small mullet are called “finger mullet”and are terrific baits when fishing for inshore species such as trout, redfish, flounder, snook, and more. Larger mullet are used for big snook, tarpon, and even billfish offshore.

Top Florida saltwater game fish

Mullet are not always easy to catch or keep alive. They are bit of a specialty bait for some serious anglers. However, there are times when finger mullet are relatively easy to find and catch. They are seen scurrying about in the shallows most often. The East Coast of Florida experiences a unique phenomenon called the “mullet run”. Huge numbers of finger mullet will hang up into bait balls and migrate down the coast. Game fish will be found ravaging the schools of bait.

Live crabs produce permit and tarpon

Live crabs are another popular live bait used by saltwater anglers in Florida. There are several types of crabs that are used, and all are effective. Once again, in some areas anglers can purchase these at bait shops while in some cases anglers catch their own. In most cases, crabs are fairly easy to keep alive as most only really need to be In a little bit of water.

Sarasota fishing guide

3” blue crabs are used extensively as live bait for tarpon on both coasts of Florida. With the pictures usually removed, the bait is hooked through the corner of the shell and cast out towards schools of rolling fish. They are certainly the number one bait on the West Coast of Florida from Naples to Tampa. Pass crabs are caught by anglers on the outgoing tide and used as tarpon baits as well.

Blue crabs are also used by inshore anglers fishing for redfish and black drum, too. In most cases, the crabs should be fresh but are not used as live bait. Instead, they are cut in half’s or quarters depending on the size and fished on the bottom. This technique is used extensively in the mosquito Lagoon and banana River areas for trophy redfish.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

Crabs are a top bait in the Florida Keys

Anglers fishing in the Florida Keys are quite familiar with crabs. Small crabs are used for anglers chasing permit on both the flats and the offshore wrecks. They are by far the number one bait for permit. Larger crabs are used for tarpon and other game fish.

Anglers bottom fishing for sheepshead and snapper will catch oyster crabs around the rocks on low tide. Bait shops seldom sell these crabs. However, anglers who use them swear by their effectiveness.

Sand fleas produce in the surf

Sand fleas are a bit of a specialized bait. They are most often used by anglers surf fishing sand fleas, also known as mole crabs. Are caught in the surfline. Using special rakes, anglers dredge the sand right at the surfline and sift through hoping to catch some sand fleas. They are mostly associated with Pompano, however they will fool snook, sheepshead and many other species as well. Some bait shops sell them frozen, though very few sell them as live baits.

saltwater fishing in Florida with live bait

Sand fleas are terrific bait for sheepshead as well. Anglers bottom fish with them around the normal structure such as docs, bridges, rock piles, jetties, and more. Sand fleas are most often hooked by running the hook from the underside and out through the shell. The shell is delicate. Therefore, anglers should use a thin hook if possible.

Live bait fishing techniques

The three main techniques when fishing with live bait in Florida are freelining the bait, fishing the bait under a float, and bottom fishing. These three presentations will cover most angling situations. In all presentations, the hook should match the size of the bait being used, but the fish being pursued.

Freelining baits

Freelining a bait is simply hooking it and allowing it to swim naturally. The bait is relatively free to swim about. However, the hook will cause it to swim in distress and erratically. A small split shot can be used if required. This technique can be used in any water depth, from the inshore flats to offshore reefs.

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Inshore, anglers cast the freelined bait toward structure such as mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, docks, sea walls, and bridges. To some degree, anglers can control or even “swim” the bait, sort of like an artificial lure. Usually, the bait fighting against the hook will trigger a strike.

Fishing baits under a float or cork

Floats, also termed corks or bobbers are simple devices. They suspend a bait at a desired depth. This is usually done on the flats, but is used offshore as well. The float supplies casting weight as well. Finally, the float gives anglers a visual reference for when a fish takes the bait.

fishing with live bait in Florida

In Florida, anglers use “popping corks”. These are floats that not only suspend the bait, they are part of the system that attracts fish. The corks have a concave face that when twitched sharply, “produces a “popping” sound. This simulates feeding fish and attracts other fish to the bait. A live shrimp under a popping cork has resulted in countless speckled trout being caught. Noisy floats such as the “Cajun Thunder” with rattles are used the same way.

Bottom fishing with live bait

Many anglers fish with live bait on the bottom and near structure. This is a very basic form of fishing that will always be productive. Many fish species feed on the bottom, especially if some type of structure is present. This can be done from a boat, pier, bridge, or shore. There are several different rigs that anglers use to present their baits on the bottom.

The Carolina Rig is very popular and effective. With this rig the line runs through a hole in an egg sinker. A swivel stops it from going further. A leader runs between the swivel and the hook. This allows fish to pick up a bait and move off with it without feeling any resistance.

High low rigs or chicken rigs are usually used for bottom fish. It is usually used in a vertical presentation. This rig allows anglers to present several baits at different depths. It is very effective for fish such as grouper, snapper, sheepshead, drum, flounder, and other species.

In conclusion, this article on the best live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida will help anglers catch more fish using bait!

Ice Fishing for Northern Pike

Ice Fishing for Northern Pike

The subject of this article will be ice fishing for northern pike. Northern pike are one of the most popular freshwater species pursued by ice fishermen for several reasons. One, they grow very large and are one of the heaviest fish that can be taken through the ice. Two, they are a true coldwater species. This means that they remain active under the ice. Finally, they are much more aggressive than many other species that anglers catch through the ice.

Northern pike can be taken by anglers ice fishing with both artificial lures and live and frozen bait. Since pike generally prefer a larger meal, bigger baits such as jigs, spoons, and jigging plugs are the best choice for anglers who prefer to fish with artificial lures. These are generally worked more aggressively than when fishing for other species as walleye. Pike are usually more active and comfortable in the cold water.

Live and frozen minnows work very well for pike as well. These include but are not limited to suckers, shiners, and where legal panfish. Experienced anglers will often freeze their leftover live minnows and uses bait on the next trip. During very cold water when pike tend to slow down a bit, frozen baits can often be more productive as the pike does not have to chase them down.

Ice fishing for northern pike; tackle and equipment

Many anglers ice fishing for northern pike do so with the rod and reel. Those that do need to beef the tackle up a bit as these fish grow quite large. Most anglers opt for 20 pound braided line when fishing in shelters. Many opt for 8 pound to 10 pound monofilament line when fishing in exposed weather as the line is just easier to manage.

Anglers can read more about ice fishing tackle and gear in the link to that article.

A leader of some sort is usually used. It can be either steel or fluorocarbon, depending on angler preference and conditions. Most anglers have gone away from steel leaders when fishing with lures as they have found that this results in more strikes. Some lures will be lost, but the trade-off is usually worth it. Anglers fishing tip ups with live or frozen bait will often stick with a wire leader.

Many anglers ice fishing for northern pike used tip ups. In fact, more northern pike are landed by anglers using tip ups than all other species combined. Larger live and dead baits are usually the most productive baits for catching pike. This makes it a natural to use tip ups when pursuing them.

ice fishing for northern pike

Locating northern pike under the ice

Once located, northern pike are not all that difficult to get to bite in most instances. This is especially true early and late in the season when they are quite aggressive. The key to anglers ice fishing for northern pike having success is locating fish. This may sound obvious. However, understanding their migrations and movements is more important with pike than some other species.

ice fishing gear

Pike will be found very shallow early in the ice fishing season. As soon as there is enough safe ice to fish, anglers can find them in shallow water. Large weedy coves are excellent spots to try. It cannot be stressed enough however, that anglers need to put safety first and not venture out into ice that is too thin!

Forage species will still be present in shallow water early in the ice fishing season. This is the reason that northern pike will still be found there. Pike will feed on bluegill and other panfish, suckers, shiners, and other small fish. This bite will last until the water gets too cold and the bait fish move off into deeper water.

Weed edges where shallow grass beds drop off into deeper water are prime spots early in the ice fishing season. The same spots that produce northern pike for anglers fishing the open water just before the freeze should produce once the ice thickens up as well

Mid winter northern pike tactics

Many anglers ice fishing for northern pike choose to stop fishing for them mid winter when the bite slows down. However, persistent anglers will often find that this is when the largest fish are to be caught. It is more difficult to locate them and anglers must move around in search of northern pike.

Structure and depth changes are the key to locating large northern pike in midwinter. Main river channels and sloping points with significant drop-offs are prime spots. This is especially true if some type of cover such as boulders or fallen timber is present.

Deep holes are another prime spot for anglers ice fishing for northern pike. Deep holes will concentrate insect larvae. This will attract minnows which of course in turn will bring in the game fish species. Deep holes that have adjacent cover such as boulders and fallen timber are most certainly prime spots to ice fish for northern pike in the middle of winter.

While pike found in shallow water will often be caught in the middle of the water column, pike in deeper water are more likely to hug the bottom. The primary reason for this is that the structure is located there. Seldom will anglers fine weed beds in water this deep. Therefore, pike will be relating to structure on the bottom.

Strategies for drilling holes

Successful anglers ice fishing for northern pike generally have a strategy in mind before heading out to the lake. Many do their homework on the lake before it freezes and use a quality GPS unit to mark likely ice fishing spots. Modern apps and websites can also provide anglers a wealth of knowledge and information.

ice fishing

The best approach is usually to drill holes in a grid or zigzag pattern, concentrating on depth changes and submerged cover such as weed beds, rock piles, and submerged timber. Once a productive depth is found, pike will normally be found in a similar depth throughout the lake. Anglers can then concentrate on that depth to maximize their results.

Choosing the best pike waters to fish

Anglers ice fishing for northern pike have a choice to make when choosing a lake. Some lakes are better when it comes to numbers in action, while others are known for producing trophy northern pike. Ideally, there is a lake that offers both. However, this is usually not the case. Experience, DNR reports, and information from local bait shops and anglers are great sources of information.

Northern pike are the ultimate ambush predator. This is one reason why weed beds are so productive. The northern pike’s camouflage allows them to easily blend in to submerged vegetation. However, this habit continues in deeper water as well. Seldom will northern pike be found in open water. They will almost always relate to some type of structure, be it a channel edge, drop off, deep weed bed, or submerged rock pile.

Steeply sloping points are natural spots for anglers ice fishing for northern pike. Anglers can cover several different steps and drop-offs with a minimal amount of holes. This obviously saves time and makes for more efficient fishing.

Ice fishing for northern pike; techniques

The two basic techniques that anglers use when ice fishing for northern pike are jigging with spoons and plugs and using tip ups. Tip ups give anglers the advantage of fishing multiple holes at one time. However, most areas do have laws limiting the number of tip ups per angler. Also, there can be limitations as to how far they are spaced apart. Many anglers still prefer to catch northern pike on a conventional ice fishing rod and an artificial lure.

Jigging for pike

Jigs, spoons, and plugs will all produce northern pike through the ice. As mentioned earlier, northern pike do prefer a larger meal. Therefore, baits in the 3 inch to 4 inch range generally work best. These are generally worked more aggressively as pike are quite active even in the cold water.

The best set up for using artificial lures for pike is a medium ice fishing spinning rod with 10 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line or 20 pound braided line. In both cases a snap swivel is tied to the end of the line. Anglers using braided line will need a 3 feet piece of 20 pound fluorocarbon leader. A steel leader may also be used.

Once set up and ready to go, the angler drops the lure to the desired depth and begins jigging it sharply in 1 foot increments. This is done multiple times at a certain depth. Then, the lure is dropped another foot or so and the process repeated all the way to the bottom. Often times, especially in deep water, allowing the lure to sit on the bottom for a few moments before jigging again will draw strike. Pike will often watch the lure as it sits there motionless.

Many anglers also tip their artificial lures with a head, tail, or strip of dead bait. This can work very well when fish are less active. Jigs, spoons, and plugs can all be tipped with a piece of bait.

Best lures when ice fishing for northern pike

The list of top lures for anglers ice fishing for northern pike include jigs, spoons, and plugs. The Rapala Jigging Rap is the go to lure for anglers ice fishing with plugs. This legendary lure has been around a long time and still catches plenty of fish. Other productive plugs include the Chubby Darter and Live Target Golden Shiner.

Spoons are very effective lures for anglers ice fishing for northern pike. They are heavy which means they will get down in deep water quickly. Spoons also put off a lot of flash and vibration. Top spoons include the Kastmaster, Flutter Spoon, and Swedish Pimple, though there are plenty of other productive spoons out there as well. Anglers should choose spoons and plugs that resemble local forage. Yellow perch patterns are a good choice in many applications.

Many anglers ice fishing associate jigs with panfish and walleye. However, jigs will certainly produce northern pike as well. Anglers should go with larger sizes that are around 3 inches to 4 inches long. Top jigs include the Marmooska Jig and Bro Bug Jig.

Using tip ups for northern pike

A 4 inch to six-inch sucker on a treble hooks fished on a tip up rig has probably produced more northern pike than all other methods combined. It is simple, yet extremely effective. Pike are active and like larger, live baits. Tip ups allow anglers to fish multiple holes at one time, increasing their chances of success.

Anglers should have their tip ups rigged with a good coated line that is freeze resistant. This is most often quite heavy line. The line then goes through a 1/2 ounce sliding egg sinker, followed by a good snap swivel. The swivel stops the sinker and allows for easy leader changes. A 3 foot long 20 pound fluorocarbon leader and a #2/0 to #5/0 hook completes the rig. Anglers can use a wire leader, however it is a bit more cumbersome.

Live bait fish are most often used under tip ups. Suckers, fathead minnows, and shiners are the most common. However, local bait shops that cater to ice fishermen will offer other baits as well. Dead and frozen baits will certainly produce northern pike, too. Dead and cut baits can be productive when fish are bit lethargic and seemingly unwilling to chase down a larger, lively bait. Frozen herring and even mackerel are good dead baits for pike as well.

Combine tip ups and jigging for pike fishing success

One excellent strategy is to use both tip ups and artificial lures at once. Anglers will place a tip up rig with a lively minnow set a few feet off the bottom in a likely spot. If legal, another tip up or even several can be set. Then, anglers can proceed to use jigging rods at other holes to help locate pike.

Tip ups can be a great option for anglers with families and for novice ice fishermen. Kids can for around and play and then when they fly goes off the race is on to see who gets to the whole first! Also, more people usually means more tip ups that anglers are allowed to fish at one time.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing for northern pike will help anglers catch more of these fantastic game fish!


Ice Fishing with Tip Ups and Tip Downs

Ice Fishing with Tip Ups and Tip Downs

This article will focus on ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs. The main advantage of these techniques is that anglers do not need to actively monitor the hole. Therefore, several holes can be fished at one time, increasing the odds of success. The rig is set and the fish do the rest. Live bait is normally used, since the hole is not being actively fished. Cut bait can be used as well.

ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs

Tip ups and tip downs are similar, but there are differences as well. Tip downs are a device that uses a regular ice fishing rod and reel. They are mostly used for anglers chasing panfish through the ice. Tip ups use heavier line and have a spool as part of the unit. They are generally used when pursuing larger species. It is important to check local fishing regulations! They will vary greatly regarding hooks, baits, and number of lines allowed.

While this can be an easy method of ice fishing, successful anglers usually put in more effort. Constantly checking baits and adjusting depths will usually result in more fish. Also, this is a great way to get youngsters involved in ice fishing. They can play while waiting for a bite as opposed to intently watching a rod tip. When a rod goes off or a flag pops up, it is a mad dash to see who can get to the line first!

ice fishing basics

Ice fishing hole placement

As mentioned previously, the primary advantage to ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs is that several different spots can be fished at one time. Therefore, hole location is critical to optimizing the pattern of rigs. The best approach is to drill holes that fish several depths and if possible, types of cover. Anglers use GPS and sonar to pin point proven spots. Organized holes in a grid pattern will efficiently cover an area.

ice fishing tip down

While covering water is the goal, anglers do not want the rigs spread too far apart. Baits will need to be monitored and changed at least every hour or so. Also, when a flag pops or a rod goes off, anglers need to be able to reach them in a reasonable amount of time. Keeping the holes to a one hundred yard radius is a good rule of thumb.

Successful anglers ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs do their homework before arriving on the ice. Studying charts and reviewing data from open water fishing will help anglers identify the top spots. Local bait shops can be great sources of information regarding best baits, depths, and bodies of water that are producing fish. Finally, online forms and groups can be a wealth of local information as well.

Best baits for ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs

Anglers ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs almost always use live or cut bait. The reason is simple; since the hole is not being actively fished, the bait must attract the fish on it’s own. Anglers using tip ups almost always opt for a live minnow. Most of time, tips ups are used on larger fish such as walleye, pike, and larger trout. These fish prefer a substantial meal.

ice fishing with tip down

Anglers using tip downs are usually after panfish and smaller species. Live minnows are still a top bait, especially for those chasing crappie and yellow perch. Tiny jigs tipped with waxworms, dead minnows, meal worms, and nightcrawlers will fool plenty of perch and panfish.

While live bait is most often preferred, successful ice fishing anglers should not overlook using dead or cut bait. In fact, there are some locations where live minnows are not allowed to be used as bait. Fresh minnows that die can be effective baits an angler should not simply toss them away. Larger pieces of cut bait from freshly caught fish can produce some large pike and trout.

Ice fishing with tip downs

Tip downs are great because they allow anglers to fish multiple holes while still catching them on a regular ice fishing rod and reel. This is kind of the best of both worlds! Anglers ice fishing with tip downs are normally pursuing pan fish, crappie, and other smaller game fish species. These fish are better suited for tip downs as they generally don’t strike hard enough to pop the clip on a tip up.

Tip downs are excellent for anglers learning a new body of water. They allow multiple baits to be presented at different depths and locations. This will help anglers learn much more quickly the types of structure and depth that which fish are feeding. Tip downs are also very conducive to family fishing. Children can be distracted and play a bit in between bites.

Tip down options

Tip downs are lightweight devices that are usually made of wood. They are very portable and set up quite quickly. As mentioned above, they use a conventional ice fishing rod and reel. Once set, the rod is either horizontal or a bit above. Many sit at 45 degrees. When a fish strikes, the unit pivots and the rod tip dips down towards the hole. Thus the name “tip down”!

There are a wide variety of tip down units available to ice fishing anglers. Most opt for the type where any rod and reel can be used. This way, anglers can use the outfits that they already own. Sullivan is an industry leader and makes some excellent tip downs that use any rod and reel combination. Some tip downs come with flags as well. However, it is very easy to tell when a fish takes a bait.

Setting up an ice fishing tip down

Once the hole is drilled, the tip down is set at that location. Anglers can use a live minnow or nightcrawler on a small hook with a split shot to get it down in the water column. This works well for crappie and yellow perch as well as a variety of other game fish species. Micro jigs with a meal worm or wax worm are best for anglers chasing bluegill and panfish.

ice fishing for bluegill and panfish

While the bait should be placed close to the bottom, anglers should vary the depth that they are fishing with the various set ups. This way, anglers can quickly identify the depth that which fish are holding and feeding. It is important to keep an eye on your tip downs! It is not unusual for a fish to take the bait off of the hook unnoticed by the angler. Fishing a hook with no bait defeats the purpose of covering a lot of water!

There are several other nuances which will help anglers ice fishing with tip downs be more successful. It is very important to keep the hole clear of ice. Most often, very light line is used in this application. Sharp pieces of ice will quickly cut this very thin line.

Also, wind can be an issue when fishing with tip downs. The best approach is usually two point the tip of the rod right into the wind. This results in the best line management when dealing with a stiff breeze. Also, it is often a good idea to pack some snow around the base of the tip down when the wind is blowing.

Ice fishing with tip ups

Tips ups have been around a long time. Many anglers use them exclusively when ice fishing. Most often, they are used to catch larger fish such as pike, walleye, lake trout and more. Panfish bite very lightly, so tip ups do not work as well for them. The tip up allows anglers to present a live or cut bait at a desired depth, without having to sit at the hole and actively fish it.

The unit consists of a frame, usually wood, a spool of line, and a flag that signals when a fish strikes. The spool is usually filled with stout braided line, 50 lb is a good strength. A leader is then attached to the end of the braid using a snap swivel. This allows for an easy change of leaders, depending on the conditions. Some anglers add a pinch on weight just above the snap swivel. This helps it hang straight down. In strong current or very deep water, a sliding egg sinker can be used.

ice fishing for lake trout

Some anglers prefer round, plastic tip ups. These are very convenient as they fit right inside the hole. This eliminates the need to constantly keep the whole free a floating ice. These units are a bit more expensive, but many anglers consider them worth the cost.

Setting and using the ice fishing tip up

Once the hole is drilled, the tip up rig is set up. The hook is boated and lowered down to the preferred depth. Anglers should vary depths at each hole to determine where the fish are feeding that day. The line is then set in the clip and the angler moves on to set up the next hole.

ice fishing basics

When a flag pops up, the angler dashes over to the hole. The spool will usually be spinning as a fish runs with the bait. The tip up is removed out of the way. Once the run slows, the anglers takes up the slack and then sharply sets the hook by hand. After the fish is hooked, it is patiently brought back in using a hand over hand motion. The head of the fish is raised up through the ice, then the rest of it is pulled through.

Tip up ice fishing rigs

Anglers fishing with tip ups have several options when it comes to rigs for their live or cut bait. Once again, anglers need to check local fishing regulations to make sure they are fishing in compliance with game laws and restrictions.

ice fishing for northern pike

Walleye rig

The best rig for fishing for walleye with a tip down is to use a jig and live minnow. A 4 foot long fluorocarbon leader is preferred. Most anglers use 8 pound test to 10 pound test line. The jig provides both weight and a hook. Anglers can fish a similar rig using a #4 live bait hook and a small split shot or two. With either rig, the minnow should be hooked in the back between the dorsal fin in the tail. This will keep it swimming down and away which signals distress to walleye in the area.

Trout rig

Lake trout and larger rainbow and brown trout are highly prized species that anglers pursue through the ice. Once again, a 4 foot long fluorocarbon leader testing 8 to 10 pounds works well. Live minnows are most often used. Where legal, a small treble results in a good hookup ratio. Anglers who like to practice catch and release fishing and in areas were treble hooks are not allowed will do fine with a light wire live bait hook.

Pike rig

Northern pike have very sharp teeth. Many anglers who ice fish for them use steel leaders. However, fluorocarbon leaders will often draw more strikes. Anglers will just have to determine if the risk is worth. Many anglers use a quick strike rig when pursuing northern pike through the ice. This rig consists of two hooks and a swivel. The bait is then hooked through the head and through the tail, increasing the odds of a hook up.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs will help anglers catch more fish through the hard water!


Ice Fishing for Bluegill and panfish

Ice Fishing for Bluegill and panfish

This post will focus on Ice fishing for bluegill and panfish. These diminutive game fish are prized by anglers ice fishing just as they are for those fishing open water. Bluegill and panfish put up a great little fight on ultra light tackle. They can be aggressive in winter, making them a prime target. Finally, and perhaps most important, they are fantastic eating!

ice fishing for bluegill and panfish

Like many other fish species, bluegill and panfish will exhibit a seasonal migration under the ice. Generally, this is a reverse pattern of summer. Early and late in the ice fishing season, bluegill and panfish will be found in fairly shallow water at times. They will generally concentrate over cover, especially weed beds. They may be found in water as shallow as 5 feet deep.

Special thanks to Scott Mackner for help with this article! Scott was born and raised in central Minnesota and still lives in his home town. He grew up fishing, hunting, and trapping and loves everything outdoors. Scott has an excellent YouTube channel with a bunch of helpful videos. He is sponsored by Tuned Up Custom Rods.

In the coldest parts of winter, bluegill and panfish will be found a bit deeper. They will stage up on drop-offs and channel edges. Generally speaking, water between 10 and 25 feet deep is the best place to search for them. They are often concentrated during this time, and it can be difficult locating them. However, once found, a bunch of them can be caught in short order.

ice fishing for panfish

Ice fishing tackle for bluegill and panfish

Ice fishing rods and reels are pretty basic. For the most part, they are smaller versions of ultra light tackle that anglers use when open water fishing. The biggest difference is the length of the rod. Since anglers will be standing close to the hole, a long rod is a disadvantage. Anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish generally go with fishing rods between 24 inches and 36 inches long. Anglers can read an article on ice fishing tackle and gear here.

Reels used when ice fishing for bluegill and panfish are the same as those used in other applications. The most part, they are the lightest versions available. A quality ice fishing rod and reel can be purchased for under $50.

Lines are very important when ice fishing. In the cold water, there is very little algae growth. Therefore, the water is very clear. Successful anglers seldom go above 4 pound test, with 2 pound test being preferred. Several manufacturers make line specifically designed for ice fishing. They stay supple even in the very cold weather. Light line will also result in much better action for anglers using artificial lures. Jigs and spoons will have a more lifelike presentation on this lighter line.

ice fishing for panfish

Ice fishing for bluegill and panfish with live bait

Many anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish use live bait. The most popular live baits are wax worms, mealworms, nightcrawlers, earthworms, and small minnows. Wax worms and mealworms in particular are favored bluegill and panfish baits. They can be fished alone on a very small hook with a split shot. Most often, they are fished on a tiny jig head. In fact, anglers almost always tip their artificial lures with some type of live bait.

ice fishing for bluegill

For the most part, these baits are easily obtained at most bait and tackle shops that cater to ice fishermen. As long as they are not exposed to the freezing cold, they should remain alive healthy for quite a while. If possible, baits should be kept at room temperature. Many ice fishermen simply keep their waxes in their winter coat pocket. Minnows are bit more troublesome and must be kept alive in an aerated bucket. Live minnows will catch fewer panfish and bluegill, however they will catch some of the larger specimens.

Ice fishing for bluegill and panfish with lures

Bluegill and panfish can most certainly be caught by anglers using artificial lures as well. As mentioned above, most effective technique is often to combine the two. Tiny jigs are by far the most popular artificial lure for panfish and bluegill. These come in a myriad of sizes, shapes, and colors. In most instances, jig heads weighing 1/32 of an ounce that are brightly colored work best. Anglers can go up or down in size as needed given the current fishing conditions. Modern jigs are made of Tungsten, they are very dense. This allows for more weight in a smaller package.

ice fishing for yellow perch

Bluegill and panfish jigs

Anglers can purchase jigs either fully dressed or plain so that they can add their own grub body. The most anglers have gone to the jig and grub design, some still prefer a jig dressed with some type of material. In most cases, this is marabou. Marabou has an incredible lifelike action and the water in response even the slightest movement. This makes it perfect for anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish.

ice fishing jigs

Just as with jig heads, the selection of grub body is available to anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish is extensive. Some do not resemble anything that swims in the water. However as long as they are brightly colored and have a natural motion in the water, they will catch fish. This set up makes it easy for anglers to quickly and easily change color combinations along with body sizes and shapes.

ice fishing with live bait

Scented soft plastic bodies can give anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish a great advantage. The GULP line of baits is a perfect example of this. The 1 inch Gulp Alive Minnow is a terrific bluegill and panfish lure. Not only has the action of a soft plastic bait but the sent of a live bait. It is an excellent and productive combination.

Ice fishing spoons

Spoons are very effective ice fishing lures as well. They are available in the tiniest of sizes, which is well-suited for the small mouths of bluegill and panfish. Gold and silver are the most popular finishes. However, of late brightly colored neon finishes have become popular. As with all fishing, anglers should experiment with colors and sizes until a productive pattern emerges.

ice fishing for crappie

Generally speaking, gold works in low light conditions and silver works better in the bright sun. Therefore, gold is the best choice early and late in the day and on cloudy days. Conversely, silver is the best choice midday and on bright sunny days. The brighter neon colored spoons are a better choice when fishing deeper water.

Techniques to catch bluegill and panfish through the ice

The primary challenge when ice fishing for bluegill and panfish is to locate them. In the wintertime, fish tend to bunch up into larger schools. It is important to take in the current conditions such as time of year, whether, and local fishing reports. Local bait shops are excellent sources of information, especially when anglers purchase bait and equipment there. Online resources such as forms of fishing reports can be helpful as well.

Anglers should drill a dozen or so holes in either a crisscross or grid pattern to get started. Ideally, these holes will cover a variety of depths as well as several types of cover. The primary cover bluegills and panfish we use in the winter is submerged weed beds and fallen timber. They will also relate to breaks such as points, drop-offs, and channel edges.

An electronic fish finder can be a huge advantage in this situation. Anglers can quickly determine if there’s any activity under the the hole. Often times, the fish will be suspended. Knowing the depth that which they are holding is crucial so that anglers can present their baits at the proper depth.It is best to present the bait or lure to the fish a little above where they are holding. Fish almost always feet up, and bluegill and panfish are no exception. Aggressive fish will rise a few feet up to take the lure or bait.

Successful anglers vary the baits and presentation

Often times the smaller fish are initially the most aggressive. If smaller fish become a nuisance, anglers can step up to a larger lure or bait. They can also be a little bit more aggressive or change up the jigging motion. Sometimes that is all it takes to get the larger bluegill and other panfish to bite.

ice fishing basics

Anglers fishing without an electronic fish finder will simply have to cover the entire water column. It is important to have some idea of the depth of the water being fished. An angler can do this by lowering the lure or bait all the way to the bottom. Then it is reeled up about halfway in the jigging process begins. The lure or bait should be lowered in 1 foot increments and given plenty of time to work until it reaches the bottom. If no action occurs, it is time to move onto the next hole.

If no fish rise to the bait, anglers should very slowly lower the bait to the fish a few inches at a time. It is important to be careful and not give the bait too much action as this will spook wary fish. Gentle upper movements of the rod tip of 6 to 10 inches while allowing the bait to flutter down naturally is usually the best approach. If the bait gets down into the school of fish and no strike occurs, it is time to try another lure or bait.

Rigging up for panfish and bluegill

The easiest way to start ice fishing for bluegill and panfish is to simply tie a tiny jig onto the end of the line. 1/32nd ounce is a good place to start and water that is around 15 feet deep. The jig can then be baited with a live waxy or meal worm or a soft plastic bait can be added. This can be tipped with a bait as well. In deeper water, a split shot can be added 18 inches or so above the jig. It is important not to place split shot to close to the jig as it will adversely affect the action.

Another rig that works well for anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish is to use a small silver spoon and a dropper. This rig uses a spoon without a hook which is tied to the line. A 12 inch leader is tied to the hook end of the spoon, followed by a small live bait hook. This hook can then be baited with a waxy, meal worm, piece of nightcrawler, or live minnow.

This is similar to what salmon anglers use when trolling in the Great Lakes. The spoon provides weight as well as some flash. Once attracted to the spoon, hopefully the fish takes the baited hook below.

Ice fishing for bluegill and panfish with tip downs

Tip downs are a great option for anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish. They allow for multiple holes to be fished at one time, as they do not need attending. A tip down is a device which holds a rod in place over the hole. When a fish bites, the rod tip jerks down, thus the name.

ice fishing with tip ups and tip downs

Since the rod is not being actively fished, this situation requires the use of live bait. The angler baits the hook, drops down to the desired depth, than sets the rod in the tip down. He or she then moves on to the next hole and repeats the procedure. Is important to keep an eye on the rods as they sit in the tip down. Panfish are quick and can strip the bait off the hook. It does not do any good to have a bare hook with no bait on it.

fishing for panfish

Tip downs are excellent for anglers learning a new lake as it allows them to cover a fair amount of water in a short period of time. They are also fantastic when fishing families with young children. The kids do not have to hold the rod are actively fish, they can fool around and play them when a rod goes off there is a chase to see who can be the first one to grab it!

In conclusion, anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish will hopefully find this article helpful!















Ice Fishing for Yellow Perch

Ice Fishing for Yellow Perch

This article will focus on ice fishing for yellow perch. Yellow perch are one of the most popular species sought by anglers fishing through the ice, and for good reason! They are a beautiful fish with vibrant colors. Yellow perch are fairly plentiful in most northern waters. Compared to most species, they are more aggressive and easier to catch. Yellow perch put up a spirited battle. Finally, and perhaps most important, they are fantastic eating!

ice fishing for yellow perch

Anglers ice fishing for yellow perch need to be ready to do two things; drill a lot of holes and move around. Perch congregate in large schools in winter. Anglers who locate them may experience fast action. However, this means that there is a lot of water where the fish are not! Dedicated anglers will put in the time and effort to locate and catch them.

Special thanks to Scott Mackner for help with this article! Scott was born and raised in central Minnesota and still lives in his home town. He grew up fishing, hunting, and trapping and loves everything outdoors. Scott has an excellent YouTube channel with a bunch of helpful videos. He is sponsored by Tuned Up Custom Rods.

Yellow perch are fairly aggressive and adapt well in the cold water. They can be caught on most of the traditional ice fishing lures as well as live baits. The large schools result in some competition between the fish. Often times, anglers can get them excited and into a bit of a feeding frenzy. When the bite gets going, anglers rotate in to keep a bait in the fish.

Ice fishing for yellow perch; tackle and equipment

Anglers ice fishing for yellow perch can use their standard light spinning tackle. While many use 2 lb test for ice fishing for panfish, it is fine to bump it up a bit when chasing yellow perch. 4 lb line will be fine in most situations. Tip ups can be utilized, however most anglers prefer to catch them on a rod and reel. Several manufacturers make monofilament and fluorocarbon line specifically designed for ice fishing. Fluorocarbon lines are bit more expensive, but many anglers find them worth the cost.

ice fishing for yellow perch

Anglers can read more about ice fishing tackle and gear in this article.

Anglers can use braided line as well. Braided line does not stretch and is very sensitive. Ten pound test is a good size to use for yellow perch and other panfish. However, with braided line a leader is required. Anglers will tie a swivel or snap swivel to the end of the braid. Then, they will attach a 3 foot long fluorocarbon leader that test between 4 pound and 6 pounds. The swivel can have the added benefit of reducing line twist.

A basic selection of jigs and spoons will get most anglers ice fishing for yellow perch started. The same panfish lures, perhaps one size larger, will do fine for perch. Live bait hooks in size #8 and size #6, split shot, and a few small floats will complete the perch anglers tackle box.

Other pieces of equipment obviously include augers, shelters, a sled, scoops, pliers, and a Thermos of coffee or soup. One piece of equipment that will really increase success for anglers ice fishing for yellow perch is a portable sonar unit, or fish finder. Yellow perch school up, locating them is the most important aspect. A sonar unit will save anglers countless hours of fishing unproductive waters.

Yellow perch migrations

As with other species, at first ice anglers will find yellow perch fairly shallow. Submerged weed beds, mud flats that slowly taper off, weed line edges, points, and reefs are all good spots to try. These structures and cover in 10′ to 15′ of water will usually be productive early in the ice fishing season. ANGLERS MUST PUT SAFETY FIRST! It is never worth taking a risk on unsafe ice just to catch fish.

As it gets colder, smaller yellow perch will still be found in the shallower water. However, larger fish will for the most part move out deeper. Channel edges, deeper mud flats, deep points, and submerged rocks and reefs are prime spots to try. Anglers ice fishing for yellow perch in rivers will do best finding deeper tributaries with less current.

ice fishing for yellpow perch

As spring approaches, the pattern reverses itself. Yellow perch spawn in spring. They will move shallow and especially seek tributary creeks. Flats, points, weed beds, and reefs in 10′ of water just off shore of the creek mouths are prime spots for late season perch. Once again, anglers need to put safety first and not fish unsafe ice.

Locating yellow perch

Once out on the lake, anglers ice fishing for yellow perch will need to decide where to drill the holes. The stage of the ice fishing season will pretty much determine where and how deep an angler starts. Experience can not be understated. Reports from local shops are invaluable. Online and social media forums can provide good intel as well. When all else fails, look for a cluster of anglers! Just be courteous and do not crowd them.

ice fishing for yellow perch

Once anglers decide on an area that they want to fish, the best approach is to drill multiple holes. A dozen or so holes in a grid pattern in a 75 yard radius is a good initial plan. These holes should cover multiple depths, structure breaks, submerged cover, and open mud flats. Another benefit of this is that as perch move off anglers can simply jump ahead to the next hole and intercept them at that location.

As mentioned earlier, a portable sonar machine is invaluable in locating yellow perch. Since these fish school up in large numbers in the winter, they will basically all be in one spot. That means that there will be a lot of water with no fish. Instead of manually fishing each hold to determine if there are yellow perch there, a sonar can quickly and efficiently eliminate unproductive water.

Ice fishing for yellow perch; importance of sonar

Just as important, the sonar machine will indicate the depth that which the fish are holding. It is almost always best to present the lore or bait a little above the holding fish. Once again, sonar machine will save many hours of fishing time in determining the depth that fish are holding that particular day.

However, just because no fish are seen on the screen does not mean that hole is not worth a try. A good approach on a hole that is not showing fish is to drop down a spoon or other lure that will attract and draw fish and. A good strategy is to drop the lure and about halfway to the bottom and jig it aggressively. Then, angler should very the depth and repeat the process

Before leaving a hole, it is best to bounce a spoon up and down off the bottom a few times. This will kick up the bottom, sometimes dislodging forage that yellow perch eat. After a few bounces on the bottom, the spoon should be raised up a foot or two, just above the bottom disturbance. If no fish show up, it is time to move on.

ice fishing for yellow perch

10 minutes or so at each hole is plenty of time to determine if it will be productive.

Ice fishing for yellow perch with live bait

Anglers ice fishing for yellow perch can use both live bait and artificial lures. In fact, one of the best approach is is to combine the two. Since yellow perch tend to be a bit more aggressive than some other species, artificial lures can be very productive. On days when the bite is tough, however, tipping the jig or spoon with a minnow or waxie can make the difference between a slow bite and a fast one.

The best live bait for anglers fishing for yellow perch is a small minnow. Just as in open water fishing, yellow perch love minnows. 1 inch to 2 inch minnows, about the same size as would be used for crappie, are perfect when pursuing yellow perch. They can be fished on a jig head as well as a plane hook with a split shot. A bobber can be used to suspend the minnow at the desired depth.

ice fishing basics

Yellow perch will take other baits as well. Nightcrawlers, wax worms, mealworms, and spikes will all catch fish. Wax worms and mealworms are best fished either on a plain jig head or a jig and grub combination. They can also be added to spoons. Nightcrawlers can be fished hole on a hook. Anglers can also pinch off a small piece and tip and artificial lure as well.

Best ice fishing lures for yellow perch

Many anglers ice fishing for yellow perch choose to do so with artificial lures. There are couple reasons for this. Lures will tend to attract and catch more active and aggressive fish. They also allow anglers to cover more water and less amount of time. Finally, lures are just a lot of fun to fish!

Ice fishing jigs

ice fishing jigs

Jigs are undoubtedly the top ice fishing lure. They are affordable, versatile, and extremely effective. Anglers can purchase jigs that are dressed with natural hair such as marabou. Many anglers by bear jig heads and then add on their favorite grub body. This jig and grub combination is very efficient. Anglers can easily change the action, size, and color of the lure with a simple grub body change.

Most quality ice fishing jig heads are made of tungsten these days. This material is extremely dense. That means that the jig will be have a while having a small profile. Most ice fishing jigs are also brightly colored. The flash and color will help draw fish to the lure.

Jigs work very well when yellow perch and other game fish are showing up on the fish finder. 1/16 ounce jigs are a good place to start, though anglers can go up or down in size depending on conditions. Fussy perch may require a drop down to one 32nd or even 1/64 of an ounce. Conversely, larger jigs can be used on active fish.

Ice fishing grub bodies for yellow perch

Grub bodies come in a myriad of styles, shapes, and colors. It would be impossible to cover them all in this article. While every angler has his or her favorite, the reality is that location and presentation are really more important factors. Local bait shops and online fishing reports are good places to get good information on the best grub bodies to use.

The best approach is to lower the jig until it is just above the fish. Then, using subtle jigging motions, the lure is hopped up and down in small increments. It can also be slowly raised and lowered. The idea is to very the retrieve until a productive pattern emerges. Anglers will often see fish rise up out of the school towards the jig, but not take it. At this point, changing up the jigging motion will often draw a strike.

Best ice fishing spoons for yellow perch

Spoons are terrific ice fishing baits for yellow perch and other species. They are heavy, which means they sink quickly. This makes them an excellent choice when fishing deeper water. Spoons also put out flash and vibration. This will hopefully attract the aggressive yellow perch to the lure.

Spoons come in many different sizes, shapes, and finishes. Small 1” spoons in silver and gold are the most popular choices. Gold works best early and late in the day and on days with cloud cover. Conversely, Silvers the best choice when the sun is out and bright.

These are excellent lures to prospect with. They allow anglers ice fishing for yellow perch to cover a fair amount of water quickly and efficiently. At times they also tend to catch larger fish. Anglers can fish them plane when fish are active. However, adding a wax worm, mealworms, minnow or piece of minnow, or a piece of nightcrawler will increase to catch on days when the fish are bit finicky.

Ice fishing plugs

The Rapala Jigging Rap has been around a long time. It is considered the plug when it comes to ice fishing. Jigging Raps are available in many different sizes and finishes. The 1 1/2 inch length bait is a good all-around size for yellow perch and other smaller game fish. The eye of the lure is in the center and there is a plastic thin or tail on the rear. When jerked sharply, the bait falls in a natural circular swimming motion. It mimics a wounded baitfish falling helplessly. It is an excellent lower for yellow perch.

Ice fishing for yellow perch with tip ups

Anglers can use tip ups when ice fishing for yellow perch. Since the whole is not being actively fished, the best choice in this situation is to use a small live minnow. The bait is simply lower down into the hole, set at the desired depth, then the weight begins. Most anglers combine tip ups while actively fishing and jigging holes. Tip ups are a good alternative when fishing with kids and novice anglers as the rig pretty much does all the work.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing for yellow perch should help anglers fill their cooler with these tasty freshwater panfish!



Ice Fishing for Lake Trout

Ice Fishing for Lake Trout

Many winter anglers enjoy ice fishing for lake trout. And for good reason! Lake trout are one of the largest species available to freshwater anglers. They are apex predators that grow very large. Like most trout, lakers thrive in the cold water. In fact, some anglers believe they actually feed more voraciously in the winter than they do at other times of the year.

ice fishing for lake trout

Lake trout roam about in small packs, not exactly schools. They are found throughout the water column, from a few feet under the ice all the way to the bottom. Basically, they go where the forage goes. The fish that they feed on are usually found near the surface when there is a plankton bloom or down at the bottom where they feed on larvae. The primary forage for lake trout are ciscoes, whitefish, smelt, herring, and perch.

While lake trout can be caught on live and cut bait, there are aggressive nature results in artificial lures being quite effective. Lake trout, especially large ones, are looking for a substantial meal as well. Therefore, the best artificial lures are usually spoons and plugs. Anglers fishing with live bait almost always use a live, frozen, or fresh dead bait fish.

Stout tackle is required when ice fishing for lake trout

Ice fishing for lake trout does take tackle that is different than that used in other types of ice fishing. The ultralight spinning outfits with 4 pound line will not cut it when chasing these large, powerful fish. Anglers can use spinning tackle for lake trout. However, rods need to be 42 inches to 48 inches long and on the heavy side. Many anglers have gone to bait casting outfits. These are particularly desired when fishing water over 50 feet deep.

Anglers can read this article on ice fishing tackle to get more information.

ice fishing tackle

Most anglers ice fishing for lake trout have gone to braided line. Braided line has no stretch while offering incredible sensitivity. The fact that this line does not stretch is very important when setting the hook on lake trout. This is particularly true in deeper water. Monofilament and fluorocarbon line both stretch, Braided line does not. Anglers can get away with 8 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line when fishing in fairly shallow water for lake trout.

A swivel is tied to the end of the braided line. This eliminates line twist while making a convenient connection for the angler to attach a leader. Most opt for a 3 foot long section of 10 pound fluorocarbon leader. However, when the water is very clear, some anglers extend this to 5 feet or 6 feet long and even drop as light as 6 lb test.

Winter locations for lake trout

Lake trout are seemingly always on the move. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Unlike fishing for panfish, lake trout will not be found in big schools hovering in one spot. Instead, they cruise in packs of a couple fish to a dozen in search of prey.

ice fishing for lake trout

Fortunately, lake trout do relate to structure. This means that the locations in which they can be found are predictable. Top spots include points, submerged islands, flats, and channel edges that drop off into deeper water. Structure that has cover on it such as boulders and submerged timber only increase the chances of it being a lake trout hot-spot. They use this structure and cover to locate and ambush their prey.

Lake trout will certainly move up shallow to feed as well. While the shallow flats are usually too warm in the summer months, this is not true in the winter. Lakers will move up onto flats to feed on yellow perch and other species. The edges of flats that are 8 to 12 feet deep and drop off quickly into deeper water are prime spots. The secondary drop off, where the bottom drops from 18 feet to 35 or 40 feet can be a very good spot as well.

Proven tactics for ice fishing for lake trout

Locating lake trout is certainly the most difficult part. Generally speaking, anglers ice fishing for lake trout do not have trouble getting them to bite, once they locate them. After all, these fish are cruising and feeding. Wintertime water temperatures are ideal for their comfort level. They are almost always on the move in search of the next meal. These large, cold, deep lakes require the lake trout to search constantly for the areas where forage is present.

lake trout fishing

Working the right depth is very important when ice fishing for lake trout. Normally, lake trout are found anywhere from 10 feet below the ice and as deep as 80 feet. They will at times be found suspending over very deep water. Once again, it is all about the forage and availability of food.

Fish locations and behavior change a bit in midwinter. Thickening ice and snow on the surface blocks sunlight penetration into the water. This results in plankton being found higher in the water column as the sunlight diminishes. Bait fish feed on this plankton and will be found there as well. This mini food chain of course culminates in predators such as lake trout.

It is important to work the entire water column, no matter what lure or bait is being used. Most often, lake trout will not be marked on the sonar unit. Instead, as mentioned above, they will be swimming about in search of food. The bait could be in the mud on the bottom feeding or up near the surface seeking plankton.

Ice fishing for lake trout with lures

The two most productive lures for anglers ice fishing for lake trout are spoons and tube jigs. These two lures account for the vast majority of Lake trout caught by anglers. Both are similar and that they mimic the ciscoes, smelt, herring, and other forage species that support lake trout populations. Vertically worked plugs can be effective as well.

ice fishing for trout

Lake trout are usually quite aggressive. Anglers should take advantage of this trait by giving their lures a very erratic action. Lake trout are attracted to the flash and vibration of a lure, it imitates a wounded bait fish and simulates an easy meal for a hungry lake trout. There are times when the lure can’t be moved fast enough!

It is important though, to develop a bit of a rhythm. In the crystal clear water, lake trout will see the lure from a long way off. When ready, it will make its move. By keeping the jigging pattern the same, anglers stand a better chance of the fish finding the bait. If a strong knock or thump is felt, that is the fish missing the lure. Anglers should continue to work it, the lake trout will usually turn around and finish it off.

Jigs are a top producer

Jig heads with either a tube or soft plastic grub body are extremely effective lures for catching lake trout. White is the most popular color as it matches the silvery type bait fish that lakers feed on. As with jigs everywhere, the vast majority of bites occur as a lure falls. After being jerked up sharply, the seductive fall, seemingly helpless, will trigger the strike. Anglers can add scent or even a strip of cut bait as well.

While erratic aggressive retrieves are generally the most productive, successful anglers very the retrieve until a productive pattern emerges. There are certainly days when the lake trout want the bait a little less active. The same applies when it comes to color, angler should mix it up. This is especially true in shallower water where lake trout feed on yellow perch and other species. Rattles inside the soft plastic bait or tube can also make a difference. Again, some days the fish want them in some days they don’t.

Lake trout love spoons

Spoons are incredibly effective artificial lures for anglers ice fishing for lake trout. They very closely resemble the ciscoes, herring, and other bait fish that they feed on. Spoons are heavy and sink to the bottom quickly, efficiently covering the water column. They also put out a lot of flash and vibration.

The best spoons are those that match the size of the locally available forage. The Mepp’s Cyclops and Williams Whitefish are two very popular spoons for catching lake trout. 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce are generally the best sizes. Silver is an excellent all round finish. Copper works very well on cloudy days and when lake trout are shallow feeding on yellow perch.

Many anglers add a belly strip from a sucker or other bait fish to the spoon. The added scent only increases the chance of a lake trout taking it. Some serious anglers will actually remove the treble hook, run it through the middle of the minnow, then reattach the hook. This is a bit more work but does result in a higher hookup ratio.

The legendary Rapala Jigging Rap

The Rapala Jigging Rap is an ice fishing legend that has been around a long time. It catches a wide variety of species, and Lake trout are no exception. The larger #9 and #11 sizes work best as it is the approximate the size of the forage. Chrome is an excellent finish when ciscoes are about. Fire tiger and perch are very productive in shallower water when lake trout are feeding on yellow perch.

The Jigging Rap has the line tie in the center of the lure. It also has a fan or lip at the tail of the bait. These two combine to give the lure a very erratic action when it falls. It tends to spiral down in a circle, seemingly helpless. This motion will trigger strikes from lake trout. The best presentation is a hard upward jerk of about 2 feet, then the lure is allowed to fall down on slack line. As in most lures, most strikes will occur on the fall.

More lake trout ice fishing tips

Current under the ice can play a key role in success or failure when ice fishing for lake trout. Despite a body of water being covered with ice, there are often times current flows beneath it. Anglers can easily detect this by watching the line when the lure or bait is dropped down through the hole. At times the current can be so strong it can make it difficult to present a bait or lure properly. Often times, a change in current flow or strength will either trigger a bite or shut one off. Anglers should be aware of this as it is one more component to factor into solving the puzzle.

Anglers can also “troll” through the ice. This may sound odd, but it is just a variation of the tactic of dragging a lure through the water. The difference is when ice fishing, it is a vertical presentation from the top to the bottom. The lure is lowered down and allowed to rest on the bottom. The angler then walks briskly away from the hole, dragging the lure up through the water column. As with all fishing, angler should experiment with the retrieve. It is surprising how hard a lake trout will hit using this technique and how close to the surface it will do so!

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing for lake trout will help anglers catch more fish!

Ice Fishing for Rainbow Trout

Ice Fishing for Rainbow Trout

The topic of this article is ice fishing for rainbow trout. Rainbow trout are one of the most popular and recognizable fish in the world! They are a beautiful game fish that has it all. Rainbow trout are fantastic game fish that takes artificial lures, flies, and live bait. They put up a great battle on light tackle, often leaping high out of the water. Of course, they can’t do this on of the ice, but they still put up a terrific fight.

ice fishing for rainbow trout

Ice fishing for rainbow trout is a bit different than many other species. Trout love the cold water. This means that there seasonal migrations are different than many other freshwater fish. While the majority of fish species move deeper as it gets colder, rainbow trout do the opposite. Fish can be found as shallow as three or 4 feet.

Another difference for anglers fishing for rainbow trout compared to other species is that successful anglers are more stationary. While mobility is the key when chasing down yellow perch, walleye, and other schooling fish, this tactic often proves unsuccessful when pursuing rainbow trout. They are spooky and the activity will often get them off thereby.

Rainbow trout habits and behaviors

The key to anglers having success is understanding the rainbow’s habits and their forage. Rainbow trout will be most often found in two locations when ice fishing. These are submerged weed beds, particularly the edge of the weeds and open muddy flats. These are the areas where rainbow trout will find food in the winter.

ice fishing for rainbow trout

Rainbow trout mostly feed on nymphs, larvae, leeches, snails, and small bait fish. Nymphs and larvae will almost always be found on mud flats. Therefore, that is where the rainbow trout will look for them as well. Small bait fish are usually found hiding in the weeds or relating the deep structure such as a drop off.

Shallow mud flats and weed beds are best fish to early and late in the day. Anglers fishing tiny jigs or live baits very close to the bottom should do well. As the day warms up a change in tactics is required. Moving to deeper offshore ledges and fishing the mid-depths with spoons and plugs is usually more productive.

Tackle for ice fishing for rainbow trout

Tackle used when ice fishing for rainbow trout is pretty basic. A 30 inch to 36 inch long rod with light to medium light action (depending on the size of the fish in the lake or river) is all that is required. Most anglers spool the reels up with 4 pound test fluorocarbon line. Several manufacturers offer line specifically designed for anglers fishing under the ice. It holds up better in the cold conditions. Anglers can read this article on ice fishing tackle and gear to get more information.

The same artificial lures and baits that produce for anglers when ice fishing will do well for rainbow trout, too. Tiny jigs, small spoons, and very small plugs are the top artificial lures. They can be fished alone or tipped with a wax worm, piece of minnow, or small live minnow. A small selection of hooks ranging from #8 up to #4 in a few split shot will complete the tackle box.

Locating rainbow trout under the ice

Generally speaking, the best spots to find rainbow trout under the ice are large shallow flats and shoals. These expansive areas with muddy bottom and weed beds will have the most forage in the winter time. Areas between 5 feet deep and 10 feet deep are generally best, but every lake is different.

rainbow trout ice fishing

Ideally, the transition from the flat to deep water will be steep. If this occurs in 10 to 20 feet of water, so much the better. Rainbow trout will cruise these edges in search of food. A submerged weed bed in 8 feet of water that drops off sharply to 15 feet of water is an example of an ideal spot to fish. Rainbow trout will cruise both the edge of the weed and the depth change in search of food.

trout fishing strategies

As mentioned earlier, ice fishing for rainbows is a bit different than other species. The fact that they will often be found very shallow requires a change in tactics. Successful anglers pursuing rainbow trout get out on the water at first light and drill all of their holes early. This allows them to move about as little as possible without making the noise required to drill new holes.

ice fishing for trout

Anglers ice fishing for rainbow trout will start drilling very shallow then move out into deeper water. Once the outside edge of weed beds or the steeper drop off is located, anglers do not need to go any deeper. It is not uncommon to catch rainbow trout in shallow water just a couple feet below the ice.

While fish finders are crucial in some ice fishing applications, they are less important for anglers ice fishing for rainbow trout this is mostly due to the fact that rainbow trout do not school up and cruise much more than most other game fish in the winter. However, sonar machines can be very useful in locating submerged weed beds as well as the structure breaks.

Rainbow trout ice fishing tactics

A good approach for anglers ice fishing for rainbow trout to start fishing shallow water early and then worked deeper as the sun gets higher in the sky. Like most game fish, rainbow trout are most active early and late in the day and even at night. On cloudy days, the fish may stay shallow all day. By mid day, most fish will be cruising the deeper edges in 15 feet to 20 feet of water. As evening approaches, the pattern will reverse itself and fish will move shallow once again to feed.

ice fishing

While moving around a lot is often the key to success when ice fishing, this is not so much the case when pursuing rainbow trout. Since these fish don’t really school up and do a fair amount of cruising, often times the best approach is to sit patiently in one spot and either lure a fish in or wait for want to cruise by. Running around from hole to hole is generally not productive.

However, this does not mean that an angler ice fishing for rainbow trout should set in one spot all day. As outlined above, starting in 3 feet of water to 5 feet of water early in the day than slowly moving deeper is a good approach. Every day fishing is different and experience is a great teacher. There is no substitute for time out on the water!

Ice fishing for rainbow trout using live bait

LThe best live baits for anglers ice fishing for rainbow trout are mealworms, wax worms, spikes, and small live minnows. These are all readily available at tackle shops that cater to ice fishermen. Live baits can be presented on a small hook. A small split shot can be used to get the bait down to the desired depth.

rainbow trout fishing

Live bait can also be used in conjunction with artificial lures. This two-pronged approach is often the most effective as it combines the advantages of both. Tiny jigs can be tipped with waxies or mealworms as well as the head or tail of a minnow. A small spoon tipped with a tiny minnow is an extremely effective combination as well.

Ice fishing for rainbow trout with lures

The same basic lures that produce fish for anglers ice fishing for other species will catch rainbow trout as well. Tiny jigs can be very effective when worked just off the bottom or just above the tops of submerged weed beds. Most modern ice fishing jigs are made of tungsten. This material is very dense and results in a very small jig being heavy for its size. Anglers can add a small split shot 18 inches above the jig if needed.

Spoons are very effective lures when ice fishing for rainbow trout. Why jigs are the most popular ice fishing lure, spoons are more effective on rainbow trout for a couple of reasons. Rainbow trout are more active than most other species and will respond to a larger bait being work more aggressively. They also often want a larger meal, which the spoon represents

Spoons work very well in the middle periods of the day when rainbow trout are suspended over deeper water. Anglers should start fishing the spoon about 5 feet below the ice. After jigging it aggressively and working it for several minutes, a few feet of line can be let out and the process repeated. Before an angler gives up on a spot, the spoon should be bounced off the bottom several times sharply, then raised a foot or so above. Disturbing the bottom will at times kick up forage and attract rainbow trout to the lure.

Using plugs for rainbow trout

Plugs are also effective lures when ice fishing for rainbow trout. The standard in the industry is the Rapala Jigging Rap. It has been around a very long time and continues to be a productive lure to this day. It has and I let in the middle and a fin on the rear which results in an erratic circular swimming motion when jig. Jigging Raps come in a variety of sizes and colors. Anglers should match the locally available forage for best results.

Flies can also be used effectively as long as they can get down to the fish. While conventional fly fishing tackle cannot be used. Weighted flies and nymphs can be used to fool rainbow trout. If the fly itself is not heavy enough to reach the bottom, anglers can simply add on a tiny split shot or two.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing for rainbow trout will help anglers catch more fish under the ice!

Ice Fishing for Brook Trout

Ice Fishing for Brook Trout

The topic of this article will be ice fishing for brook trout. Brook trout are a beautiful fish that feed aggressively under the ice. Like most trout, brookies thrive in cold water. They will be found cruising the shallows all winter long. Anglers who understand their habits will have success ice fishing for these terrific game fish!

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The key to success when ice fishing for brook trout is understanding their habits. While many game fish species tend to move deep in the cold weather, with brook trout it is the opposite. Most fish will be caught and water less than 10 feet deep. In fact, the majority of fish will be caught and 5 feet or less.

Brook trout are found in shallow water for one reason; that’s where the food is. Brook trout are comfortable in the cold water, therefore forage becomes a primary consideration. These shallow areas hold aquatic insects, bait fish, and eggs from fish that have spawned in the fall.

Ice fishing tackle for brook trout

The tackle required when ice fishing for brook trout is pretty basic. Anglers should go light, using a 24 inch to 36 inch light rod with a matching reel. Anglers need to go very light on the line, as the water is quite clear. Four pound test fluorocarbon line is a good choice. However, some anglers even drop it down to two pound test. Several manufacturers produce lines that are specifically designed for ice fishing.

Anglers can read more about ice fishing tackle and gear in this article.

Most brook trout are caught by anglers ice fishing with live or natural bait. Therefore, a selection of hooks is required. Light wire live bait hooks in sizes from #4 down to #10 will cover most situations. A split shot or two may be required when fishing slightly deeper water. A selection of jigs and small jigging spoons pretty much completes the brook trout angler’s ice fishing tackle box.

Best locations for finding brook trout under the ice

As in all fishing, locating where fish are holding and feeding is of prime importance. The best bait and tactics in the world will not produce if there are no fish around. Anglers ice fishing for brook trout should keep one thing in mind; fish shallow! If there is one mistake that the novice brook trout angler makes, it is fishing too deep, as he or she would for other species. Brook trout are comfortable roaming the shallows around boulders and other cover. That is where they do the bulk of their feeding.

Incoming streams are prime spots to locate brook trout under the ice. A brook or stream that enters a sandy flat with some gravel or rock bottom would be a prime location. Points that drop off into deeper water, particularly with structure such as submerged weeds, timber, or rock and gravel are other likely fish holding spots. Any type of water flowing into the lake, especially with these other features, should equal a great brook trout fishing spot!

Not all brook trout lakes or waters are the same. Some are known more for numbers while others are trophy fisheries. Trophy brook trout are not easy to catch! They live in an environment with a lot of food and they don’t grow large by being easy to catch. Conversely, anglers seeking more action would be wise to choose a lake that is more heavily stocked or is known for producing action as opposed to trophies.

Successful fishing strategies

Another consideration when ice fishing for brook trout is sunlight penetration. Brook trout, particularly in the shallow clear water, bite best in low light conditions. Early and late in the day along with cloudy days are almost always best. Brook trout can be caught in the middle of a bright sunny day. However, they will generally move a bit deeper and it can be harder to get them to bite.

As in all other aspects of ice fishing, there is strategy that comes into play when drilling the holes. Since early-morning is generally best, anglers get out there early and drill a dozen to 15 holes in water ranging from a foot deep to 10 feet deep. Ideally, these holes will be over weedy flats, shallows with rocky bottom and the edges of drop-offs in 8 to 10 feet of water. Working the east side of a lake can extend the early-morning bite as trees will provide shade an hour or two later into the morning.

Most anglers don’t really have a choice as to when they get to fish. However, if it all possible it is best to go ice fishing for brook trout a day or so prior to a front moving through. Not only does the low-pressure tend to make them bite, these are normally the more cloudy and overcast days. Conversely, the days after the front will result in high pressure and a very bright, sunny day. These are not ideal conditions for brook trout or really most other species.

Since the window for catching brook trout can be small, anglers need to be flexible and constantly keep moving until fish are located. Once a particular area or depth seems to be producing, it is best to then concentrate on that area or that depth range. Where possible, anglers can team up by trying different baits or lures to see what the fish want that day.

Ice fishing for brook trout with live bait

The vast majority of anglers ice fishing for brook trout do so using live or natural bait. Top baits include live minnows, nightcrawlers, wax worms, and salmon eggs. Some anglers even increase their odds by adding a sent such as procure to sweeten the bait even further. These baits are readily available at bait and tackle stores that cater to anglers ice fishing.

Since the majority of brook trout fishing is done in shallow water, the best approach when fishing with live bait is generally to use a hook with no weight. The hook is then baited with a salmon egg or two, nightcrawler, or minnow and lowered down through the hole. #8 short shank thin wire live bait hooks are a good place to start. It is best to start out fishing the bait a foot or so above the bottom. Anglers can then move up in the water column if needed. One nice thing about fishing shallow is that there is less of the water column to probe.

Smaller minnows are generally the best choice for anglers ice fishing for brook trout. Small minnows will catch both large and small fish, while large minnows will only catch bigger fish. Anglers looking for action over trophies will do well with the smaller baits. However anglers targeting a trophy brook trout can use a larger shiner or chub.

Anglers can use a small tungsten jig head to present a live bait or salmon egg as well. This works particularly well with wax worms but can be used with nightcrawlers and salmon eggs, too. Most jig heads are brightly colored and this can help attract a brook trout to the bait. This approach works very well when fishing around large boulders and other rocky structure.

Tip ups will produce brook trout

Tip ups have the advantage of allowing anglers to fish multiple holes at one time. They can be set up and rigged with a live bait. Then, the angler can move on to put out more tip ups or actively fish a hole with the spinning rod. As with all fishing, anglers need to check local fishing regulations to make sure they are in compliance.

ice fishing basics

One excellent strategy is to set tip ups over submerged weed beds. Then, the angler can lower down a live minnow and set the tip up so that the minnow hovers just above the tops of the submerged vegetation. It is best to hook the minnow in the back, between the tail and dorsal fin. This can be easier to do with the tip up Dan with a fishing rod. Of course, nightcrawlers, salmon eggs, and even frozen or cut bait can be used as well.

At times, anglers will be fishing water so shallow that they will have to raise the height of their tip up. Otherwise, the rig will bottom out on the floor of the lake. Wood blocks can be used to accomplish this. Also, anglers will sometimes see where the flag pops but the line is not running off the spool. The brook trout will feel resistance a drop the bait. Anglers should reset the tip up and then wait a few moments. If the fish does not come back and bite, the hook should be checked to see if there is still bait.

It is very important to have a lively and frisky bait fish on the hook. Since the angler is not actively jigging or fishing the whole, the bait fish will produce all the action. Dead or dying baits do not trigger strikes like active ones do. Therefore, anglers should check their baits every 45 minutes or so. Also, adding a little bit of lake water to the bait bucket when arriving on scene will help the minnows not being shocked by a drastic change of water temperature.

Ice fishing for brook trout with artificial lures

While most anglers ice fishing for brook trout do so with live bait, artificial lures will certainly catch their share of fish as well. While jigs are the most popular ice fishing lure, spoons are generally the preferred lure when pursuing brook trout under the ice. The idea of an artificial lure such as a spoon is to excite or aggravate a fish into biting when they are otherwise not in a feeding mood.

Spoons provide several of these key elements. They put out both flash and vibration. Spoons are also fairly dense. This makes them an excellent choice towards the middle of the day brook trout tend to move to the edge of the flat, point, or weed line. At times an actively vibrating and flashing spoon will catch fish when live bait is ignored. However, anglers should not get carried away with the motions. In most instances, an 8 inch to 10 inch upward twitch of the rod tip is all that is required. Most anglers tip the spoon with a small minnow or piece of minnow or even a nightcrawler.

There are many effective ice fishing spoons on the market. In fact, there are too many to list. Top spoons for anglers ice fishing for brook trout include, but are not limited to, the Acme Kastmaster, Sweedish Pimple, and Little Cleo. Silver and gold are the most popular finishes. However, some anglers prefer brightly painted lures as well.

Jig heads with a small grub body do have their place when ice fishing for brook trout. They can be especially effective on heavily pressured waters. A tiny 1/64 ounce brightly colored tungsten jig head with a 1 inch soft plastic grub body may produce when nothing else will. Anglers often tip the jig with a wax were more piece of nightcrawler. It is best fist very subtly with his lighted line as possible.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing for brook trout will help anglers catch more of these beautiful and hard fighting fish!

Ice Fishing for Burbot

Ice Fishing for Burbot

Ice fishing for burbot is overlooked by many anglers. They are an under utilized game fish. Who would not want to catch a fish that grows large, fights hard, and tastes fantastic on a dinner plate? Part of the problem is that there is not a ton of information on these fish, their habits, and spawning cycles. However, in this article, these subjects will be covered. Hopefully, anglers will understand burbot better after reading this.

Burbot are a slow swimming fish that mostly feeds on or near the bottom. They use their uniquely camouflaged bodies to ambush prey. Burbot mostly feed on bait fish. However, insects, crustaceans, and other forage are part of their diet as well. Burbot are found in large, deep, cold bodies of water.

Burbot have a highly developed sense of touch and smell. This gives them an advantage when hunting in the dark. Therefore, most serious burbot anglers pursue them at night. No need for an early rise for these fish!

Burbot ice fishing tackle

Burbot do grow fairly large. Most anglers ice fishing for burbot simply use their walleye and lake trout tackle. 36” to 42” rods with a medium or medium heavy action work well. Burbot are often found in shallow water in the evening and at night. Anglers can use either 20 lb braided line or 10 lb flourocarbon line. In either case, anglers should choose lines designed for ice fishing. Anglers using braid will require a 48” piece of 10-15 lb flourocarbon leader.

ice fishing for burbot

Most anglers ice fishing for burbot use a combination of an artificial lure and cut bait. Heavy jigs and jigging spoons sweetened with a strip of cut cisco or other baitfish or frozen shiners is the preferred bait. Anglers can also use scented soft plastic baits such as the Gulp line. Also, anglers can use scents such as Pro Cure on soft plastic tubes and other baits.

Anglers can read more about ice fishing tackle and gear in this linked article.

There are many spoons and jigs that will produce for anglers ice fishing for burbot. These include, but certainly are not limited to the ReelBait Tournament Series LS Flasher Jig, the Trout-N-Pout Spoon, and Frostbite Dinnerbell Spoon.

Burbot habits and behavior

As in all fishing, understanding fish habits will help anglers ice fishing for burbot. One great aspect of burbot is that they provide an excellent opportunity mid winter when some other species gets tough. Burbot spawn in the winter. They spawn from January through March, depending on location. The fishing “window” is generally 4-6 weeks long.

ice fishing for burbot

Interestingly, not every burbot spawns every year. Some take a year off. However, they ones that don’t still move up with the other fish and help protect the eggs. This is a very unusual behavior in the fish world.

Burbot will be found in deeper waters during the daylight hours. As the day wanes, fish will move up from 40 feet to 60 feet of water and onto flats in 10 feet to 20 feet of water. This means that flats and points adjacent to deeper areas, especially main lake basins, are often the best spots to fish.

Burbot locations

Humps, points, and flats near the main lake channel and deepest portions of the lake are prime spots to target burbot at sunset and into the night. Rocks, gravel, and weedy bottoms will increase the chance for success. Burbot fishing is tough during the day. However, persistent anglers ice fishing for burbot will find them in the deeper holes.

ice fishing with live bait

Anglers should drill a dozen or so holes in varying depths. A good approach is to start at the drop off into the main lake channel or basin. That will be a prime spot! Next, more holes are scattered about on the flat, from 20 feet deep down as shallow as 8 feet deep. Anglers can follow the migration as they move up on the flat as the evening progresses. The north side of the lake, which faces south, can often be better.

Techniques used when ice fishing for burbot

The one technique that produces for anglers ice fishing for burbot is to bounce a jig or spoon on the bottom several times, then lifting up up a foot or so and subtly jigging it. The bottom disturbance attracts the fish, then they can’t help but attack the offering that is just dangling in front of their face. This is where the weight of the lure comes into play. The pause is very important as it simulates a wounded bait fish which is easy prey for the burbot.

A sonar unit is not required for anglers ice fishing for burbot. However, they certainly help. Even if no fish show, anglers should give the “bottom bumping” technique a try. If fish are on the screen but won’t bite, anglers should vary the retrieve to see if they can elicit a strike. The routine should be repeated several times before moving on to another hole.

Jigs and spoons are almost always tipped with a strip of cisco or a bunch of flathead minnows or shiners. Burbot grow large and want a substantial meal. Anglers should be generous with their strip or gob of minnows. As mentioned earlier, a Gulp bait or soft plastic trailer loaded with Pro Cure will work as well.

In conclusion, this article will hopefully ecourage anglers to give ice fishing for burbot a try! They are great fun and terrific eating! The flesh is similar to lobster. However, anglers should be responsible and just keep a couple for dinner. As with most species, it is best to keep the average sized fish and release the big girls to make babies.

Ice Fishing for Bass

Ice Fishing for Bass

This article will focus on ice fishing for bass. Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are both warm water species. In the frigid winter waters, their metabolism slows greatly. Unlike trout, walleye, and other cold water species, bass activity is significantly reduced in the winter. However, anglers can be successful catching bass under the ice. It does take a change of tactics.

ice fishing for bass

It is best to look at bass as really being large panfish. In reality, that is the family of fish to which they belong. Largemouth bass thrive and water temperatures in the mid-60s to low 70s. Therefore, water temperatures in the mid-30s are significantly below their ideal range. They will feed much less often and on smaller prey. Larger meals are harder to catch and take a long time to digest.

Smallmouth bass are a little more tolerant in the colder water. They are also found farther north in more significant numbers. Smallmouth bass will be a bit more active than largemouth bass under the ice. However, their activity level will still be much lower than in the open water fishing seasons.

Tackle and lures when ice fishing for bass

The same rod and reel combinations that work for crappie, small trout, and panfish will be well suited for anglers ice fishing for bass. Even though bass grow large, especially largemouth bass, the baits and lures that will be used to catch them will be quite small. Light action rods and 4 pound test fluorocarbon lines are the best approach in most situations.

ice fishing for bass

The same applies to jigs and artificial lures as well. Micro jigs in the one 32nd ounce and even as small as 1/64 of an ounce are used to catch bass under the ice. The jig heads can be fished in conjunction with live bait, used with a grub body, or even a grub body tipped with a mealworm or wax worm.

A #3 Rapala Jigging Rap is another productive lure that anglers can use when ice fishing for bass. It is better suited early and late in the ice fishing season, when fish are bit more active. Largemouth bass in particular are just not in the mood to chase down a large meal. Jigging spoons can be effective, again, usually went bass are actively feeding.

Anglers can read more about ice fishing tackle and gear in this article.

Bass habits

Largemouth and smallmouth bass are actually quite different in habit. These differences continue to exhibit themselves even under the ice. In its simplest form, largemouth bass prefer weeds and smallmouth bass prefer rocks. It isn’t that simple, but that really is a good place to start.

Neither largemouth bass or smallmouth bass tend to school up in the winter. Instead, they slowly cruise the bottom, usually hunting alone. This is almost always true of largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass may be found in small clusters of fish, particularly over deeper structure.

Ice fishing for largemouth bass

Largemouth bass prefer weedy areas, most often with a softer muddy bottom. It will generally be found in water 30 feet deep or shallower. When healthy submerged grass beds are available, largemouth bass will often cruise the outside edge of the weed line. This usually occurs with a depth change or drop off.

The best spots to look for largemouth bass are flats or basins adjacent to the main river channel. Tributary creeks and back bays will usually not hold largemouth bass in the wintertime. They will generally be seeking the last available healthy weedy growth. Often times, they will be found on the outside edge of the flat and weed line. In most cases, anglers fishing between 10 feet deep and 25 feet deep will be most successful.

Ice fishing for smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass will usually be found deeper, in the 40 to 50 foot range. Also, they prefer to stage around hard bottom areas, gravel bottoms, and submerged boulders or rocks. Points that slope off into the main river channels are prime spots. Submerged islands or rocky humps or reefs that rise out of the depths to 30 or 40 feet below the surface are also outstanding places to ice fish for bass.

During periods of peak activity, usually at the beginning are towards the end of the ice fishing season, smallmouth bass will move up into shallower flats. Flats in depths of 10 to 15 feet that are close to the main lake channel with gravel or rocky bottom will be spots were smallmouth bass will move up and feed.

Bass tactics under the ice

As mentioned earlier, successful anglers ice fishing for bass scale down their offerings in the winter. Sometimes it seems difficult to imagine the same bass that will inhale a huge soft plastic bait instead preferring a tiny grub on a jig head. However, this is the case. Both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass will most often be caught on tiny offerings that are well suited for panfish.

Weather plays a huge role when it comes to ice fishing for bass. While other cold water species adapt better to the frigid conditions, bass will almost always respond better after a slight warming trend. The several days of warm, stable weather following a severe front are usually best. At this time they will rise up from the depths and move shallow to feed. A strong cold front will almost certainly shut off the bite.

Small minnows, nymphs, insects, and other a small aquatic animals are the prime forage for bass in the wintertime. This explains why the smaller baits are generally more productive. Day in and day out, a one 32nd ounce jig with a small soft plastic body tipped with a wax worm or meal warm will be the most productive offering. A small live minnow hooked through the lips on a jig head and lowered to the bottom can be productive as well.

Ice fishing for bass requires patience

Anglers ice fishing for bass need to be very patient. Bass will often slowly approach the lure or bait, watching it for some time. Anglers want to move the bait enough to attract the bass, without scaring it off. Gently lifting the bait 6 to 10 inches and then allowing it to fall naturally is a good initial approach. If that does not produce, the angler should be at tad more aggressive and twitch the bait sharply as opposed to a slow pull. As with any other fishing, anglers should vary the retrieve until he or she finds a presentation that the bass want that day.

There are days when the bass just don’t want to take and artificial lure. Post cold front conditions in very cold water temperatures can often cause this. Bass are simply not as active. Several wax worms or mealworms on a jig head will usually produce a bite. Anglers should very subtly give the jig and bait combination a little bit of motion.

Hooking and landing bass

Once the bass has been lured into biting, the angler must land the fish. It takes a light hande and a delicate touch to land a large bass on extremely light tackle. The initial problem is often the hook set. Anglers simply cannot use a robust hook set with 4 pound line. Razor-sharp hooks are a must! Limber rods and smooth drags will also be required to consistently land large fish when ice fishing for bass.

More tips for catching bass

There will be days when anglers ice fishing for bass will find them more active. On these days, a larger baits such as the Rapala Jigging Rap would be a good choice. Larger soft plastic baits can be used as well, up to 3 inches long. Anglers using these larger baits will get less bites, but they may catch a larger fish. However, for consistent results it is hard to beat the smaller jigs.

Small live minnows can be used successfully as well. Shiners that are most often used for crappie are about the perfect size. These can be lower on a jig head down to the bottom. When bass are found in shallower water over weeds, they can be hooked on a small live bait hook and suspended under a float to the desired depth.

In conclusion, this article on ice fishing for bass will help anglers catch more fish through the ice.