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Catting the chain


Horseshoe_Don

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

Hopefully we don't get too much snow.  The arctic blast should help the ice situation if we don't. 

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I live in the St. Cloud, area.  Just moved here and am not too familiar with the lakes in the area.  When you say "Chain", are you talking about those lakes out toward Cold Spring?

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14 minutes ago, UncleKes said:

I live in the St. Cloud, area.  Just moved here and am not too familiar with the lakes in the area.  When you say "Chain", are you talking about those lakes out toward Cold Spring?

Yes. Sauk River Chain of Lakes.

Previously known as the Horseshoe Chain. Many still call it that. 

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I have always wanted to fish for these during the winter but have never had a Chance do guys Target them or usually catch them fishing for eyes and Crappie? 

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2 hours ago, matt320 said:

I have always wanted to fish for these during the winter but have never had a Chance do guys Target them or usually catch them fishing for eyes and Crappie? 

There is a place called the "meth hole" its always open water do to methane gas bubble escaping the surface there. The map shows you the route to the hole you have to use that southern access unless you want to have a drink of water the river makes the other access no good in the winter. I would start out south east of the meth hole . These other guys will probably have better tips than me though.

11.jpg

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Your looking for soft mud bottoms. I have found them anywhere from 8-40+ ft durring the winter months. Usually the best depths are between 20-32ft. 

After selecting a promising looking area i like to drill quite a few holes in various depths, looking for marks or pods of fish on my flasher. Once I find a decent concentration of fish I set up my house.

Baits are pretty simple, small jigging spoons (1/16 or1/8 oz)  bright glow is best, tipped with either a minnow head ( just like walleyes) or a small piece of chicken liver.  Floats (bobber) are very helpful in detecting bites. I like the ice buster bobvers, you can trim the top off so it just stays floating with only a 1/4 or 1/2inch of the float sitting above the water, this helps detecting the light bites. 

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

They are fun to catch on light tackle through the ice.  Good tips so far.  Lot of guys go right to the deep holes.   I've had better luck on the flats near deep holes.  Drill lots of holes till you find a good concentration.  Rick has good advice with tackle and approaches.   

The meth hole is the community spot.  They are caught in many areas where guys fish crappies.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hear people are starting to drive out. Haven't been out there in a few days though. 

Cat bite has been decent as long as you can find a school.  Had some friends out there over the weekend. They said it took a little looking to find where the fish were concentrated, but once on them it was good.

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Have seen and marked fewer cats than other years.   Has anyone been to the meth hole area?   Just curious if the numbers were down there also.    

 

Don

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Hey guys, first post here but have been lurking for awhile and decided I had to get in on the discussion instead of being a stranger. Grew up here in Stearns county all my life and have been fishing ever since I was a wee lad. I was out on Horseshoe this morning from 8 am till noon and marked lots of fish but no takers. I was fishing a quarter mile south of the meth hole at sunrise in 17 feet and was marking lots in 7-11 feet. Could actually see them through the hole, one of which appeared to be a ~10 lb cat. Saw a nice walleye through the hole as well. Around 9:30 moved to the deep water east of the meth hole in 40 feet and marked a lot less, and didn't get any bites there either. Just some looks and sniffs. We tried jigging spoons with whole shiners, shiner heads, cut shiner bodies, as well as crappie minnows with the guts hanging out. Couldn't get a bite! 

Happy to be a member and excited to join the discussion and put some fish up top the ice. 

-Justin

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A lot of times dead sticking can out fish anything else, when it comes to finicky cats. Most guys use foam bobbers, cut to sit just above the water. Small crappie gear, minnow chunks, or chicken liver; if the bobber moves, set the hook.

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On 1/5/2018 at 6:53 AM, Horseshoe_Don said:

Have seen and marked fewer cats than other years.   Has anyone been to the meth hole area?   Just curious if the numbers were down there also.    

 

Don

I was up near the meth hole about a week ago, seemed to be slower than usual for the couple hours we were out.  I think we had 18 for the 3 of us in about 2 hours.  That’s the only time I’ve been out this year so I guess it’s tough to say.

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So I’m still getting the hang of this ice cattin deal... do you guys ever fish a “good looking spot” even if you dont mark fish on first drop down.  I usually keep searching until I mark a pod of fish.  I drilled holes all over horseshoe and red cedar for 8 hours today and couldn’t mark a fish to save my life.  Ended up putting 2/3 of a gallon of gas through the auger by the time I was done.  Targeted hard to soft transitions, drop offs, ledges in front of soft bottom bays, in depth ranges from 14 to 50 fow.  I refused to fall back to the meth hole area as I would really like to learn more spots ( see above post, it’s about the only place I’ve had success)  but today was rough.  Not looking for spots, just general ideas/ advice.  

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Give these areas a shot.  I never stip drilling holes till I mark a bunch of fish in a area, no matter how good in theory they look. Soft bottom areas, depth insn't the biggest factor. Muddy bottom areas tend to be best.

20180108_071546.png

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On ‎1‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 7:20 AM, Rick G said:

Soft bottom areas, ... Muddy bottom areas tend to be best.

 

How are you able to determine soft bottom from your vex? Turn the gain up and look for a green bottom versus a hard red chunk?

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46 minutes ago, JustinN said:

How are you able to determine soft bottom from your vex? Turn the gain up and look for a green bottom versus a hard red chunk?

Vex tells quite a bit, camera works best for this.

Another way of getting a good idea if whats on the bottom (rocks, sand or mud) is to use a depth ball( clip on type) drop it to the bottom, feel whats down there....mud tend to be sticky

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59 minutes ago, Rick G said:

Vex tells quite a bit, camera works best for this.

Another way of getting a good idea if whats on the bottom (rocks, sand or mud) is to use a depth ball( clip on type) drop it to the bottom, feel whats down there....mud tend to be sticky

I'm gonna head out there this evening on horseshoe to see if I can get any walleye & cats to play nice. Going to make a point to try and find some soft bottom. Will update back to you all on how it goes.

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We were out on horseshoe from 3:30-7 tonight! We began punching holes at the south east area of the lake, about half a mile after the access. Weren't marking anything after punching over 12 holes in a long line, so we picked up and drove around the bend near the meth hole to the south western bay. Set up in 30 ft of water and were marking fish constantly from 5pm-7pm, but only managed to pull two cats up. We were using dead sticks with chicken liver and a small jig, jigging spoons with whole shiners, and jigging spoons with shiner heads. The only thing the cats wanted was the liver. Had them coming up and sniffing the bait all evening long and the vex was lit up like crazy, but very very timid fish. Had ice busters on that would dance but wouldn't even go beneath the water the bite was so light. Beautiful night to be fishing though.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

So often with chicken liver or minnow heads the bobber will travel or bounce but not go down.  That's hook set time during a light bite.  Sometimes that's all the "hit" you get.

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Borch is 100% right... that dancing you were seeing, that was the bite...

Baits should be small, ditch the shinners... fatheads or crappie minnows, use only the heads or tail. Liver works well, again, small chunks, penny or dime size piece. Use small jiging spoons, 1/16 oz most of the time. Trim that float so only 1/4 inch sits above the water line..ice busters are best for this. Don't use sinkers on a traditional bobber to weigh it down. 

When you see that float, twitch, come up, move to the side or do anything other that just sit there....SET THE HOOK:D  Cats are some of the lightest biting fish out there at times. 

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Hey guys, few questions if I may...

What's the current ice condition on Horseshoe? Is the path to the Meth hole safe for a pickup? (From the winter Access)

what about the neckdown area on the south-West branch of the lake that has the narrow channel in the summer... does that ice stay thin or can you take a truck over it?

 

also, anyone ever use stinkbait on a small spoon? 

 

Thanks in advance...

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ice is about 2 feet and yes you can take a truck to the meth hole.    Never heard of the neck down area?  To what lake are you referring?

 

Have tried stink bait years ago and Livvers or crushed minnows work better.

 

Don

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