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I have owned a place on Lake Vermilion(WE) since 2011 and have absolutely enjoyed every visit and season on the lake.  Our knowledge of the lake and fishing patterns have grown tremendously.  However, this experience has not translated success onto the ice.  We catch some fish, but feel like we should be doing better.  Typically we use small gear 1/16th or 32nd jigs with minnows, Spoons with just a minnow head or when we go after panfish we'll use wax worms.  We fish all the same spots and don't catch nearly as big or many fish.  When we do catch most of our fish, it's typically on mud flats and we drill a lot of holes.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  

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While I can't offer you any sound advice on your success while ice fishing, I can tell you that very rarely is the consistent success you've had in open water going to be near as good as it is on ice.   And that is mostly because the water is bitter cold and fish are cold-blooded, meaning that their activity is only going to be as much as they need to survive.  Other things working against you are the inability to cover as much water as you could from a boat and not as many bait/lure options, in addition to being limited to a vertical style of fishing.  I'm not saying that you should give up completely, but just keep in mind that a variety of factors comparing one to the other could be why your success isn't sustained.

Edited by gimruis
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Cliff Wagenbach

I agree with gimruis. Do not expect to see the same type of action or type of bite that you can get in the summer on open water!

Generally the winter bite is short, ( a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours just as it is getting dark), especially if you are fishing for walleyes. Dark cloudy days can sometimes be the exception.

What works one day may not work the next day also.

I like to jig with a 1/8 oz. to 1/4 oz. spoon baited with a crappie minnow or just a minnow head on one of my lines. The other line is a plain hook set line with either a fathead minnow, shiner, pike sucker, or a rainbow chub as bait. Type of minnow that works best varies greatly depending upon where you are fishing!

I like to set up close to rocks that drop into deeper water most of the time.




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I've experienced the same thing - V can be tricky through the ice. There's a ton of structure to choose from and you're pretty limited with how much you can move.

We've had the most success just staking out a likely spot during primetime. Drill a bunch of holes and wait for the fish to move up. Tip-ups have helped to cover more ground and locate fish. Like Cliff said, bite windows are real short so you've gotta be out there when it's happening!

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I am a lazy angler, so winter fishing suits me fine.  I typically fish with pike suckers or chubs on a plain #6 hook 6" off the bottom, and do just fine on ice.  As they said, the best bite times are sunrise-10:30am and 3:00pm-sunset; although I do occasionally catch some in the middle of the day.  I have caught very few walleyes after dark.

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I appreciate the feedback. We love being out on the ice, so we'll keep plugging away.  Good luck to all this winter and be safe out there!

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  • Posts

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