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The Judas Principle
By Cory Schmidt

Icetime's a good time for experimentation-- at least for me. Seems like each ice season brings a few new curiousities, a few theories born out of time spent crouched over holes. One thing I've noticed over the past several seasons is that at early ice walleyes can be so fired up when feeding, that a small, subtle presentation can actually turn them off. There was even a time, not so long ago when I was pretty programmed to believe that small and subtle presentations were always preferred to larger fare for walleyes under the ice. Boy was I wrong.

Now, each of the past several seasons, I've been jigging and livebaiting with larger ice lures than ever. Especially this year. And not only have I experienced the best early ice bite for walleyes in many years, but I've also seen a good number of bigger fish as well.

Specifically, I don't know that a walleye jigging spoon or swimming lure exists that's too large to be considered food by a walleye. My best spoons this year have been the 1/2oz Acme Kastmaster and Jig-A-Whopper's Knocker Minnow with the built-in rattle. Also, Nilsmaster's beautiful 3" Jigger Shad (the biggest size) in the perch pattern has been hot. Salmo's Chubby Darter looks like one with possibilities, too. We'll see (and let me know if you've used this lure yet).

Another option I've been tinkering with is a concept called "the Judas principle." Set a tip-up near your jigging hole-- just on the shallow edge perhaps-- with a large 6 to 8inch minnow (shiner, chub or sucker). Set the minnow several feet off the bottom. The principle, of course, says that the disturbance of a large minnow struggling in open water will attract larger predators into the area. More often than not, the trap works. Sometimes, you'll even score a real big fish on the large minnow itself. Other times, the activity of the minnow simply draws active walleyes and pike into your area, where they eat your active presentations. Always worth a try.

Soon, I'll be back to talk about the panfish thing. And it'll soon be time to ice a few cats. But if in the meantime the 'eyes wanna keep biting, who am I to argue?

So here's wishing you all a ten-pound Christmas-time walleye. (Or if not, at least visions of tens, dancing in our heads).

-a friend called Toad

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