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Early Ice... What Do YOU Use?

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I'm usually one of the guys sitting over a hole, pretty shallow on the weeds, jigging a crappie minnow part or waxie on a variety of panfish jigs. I always get excited about panfish 2 times a year "early spring" & "early Ice". Then a tip up near by for pike.

Often Times I will see guys using all their holes for shallow tip ups then sit in the car at the landing waiting for a flag. If I'm not on the panfish & these guys are running around chasing flags it can be frustrating... confused.gif

Please share your fav. technique!

Later -CLoma

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Hey Cas, I'm not much on ice pannies, except occasionally for crappies.

My normal early ice setup is tip-ups for pike all day and then two holes in the trap II for 'eyes after about 3 p.m. Best of both worlds. Sometimes instead of two holes in the shack (jigging lure tipped with minnow head on one rod, minnow under bobber on the other), I'll put a tip-up with lighter mono on it about 30 or 40 feet from the shelter. That tip-up has jingle bells and reflective tape on it, and I rig it with a minnow on a bare bronze hook and a couple split shot, and nothing else. If I really know the spot and am confident I'm in the right 'eye place, I'll go with both rods in the shack. The tip-up farther out is a nice help in case the fish are spread out, I'm not as confident I'm in the perfect spot, or they don't want anything but the subtle stripped down approach. Some nights I get fish in on the Vex and they smack the jigging approach. Other times it's the bobber. And still other times it's nothing but the tip-up. Most times it's a combination of them.

Tip-ups for pike are easy as falling off a bar stool. Tip-ups for 'eyes are a tougher thing, with more subtlety and feel required when timing how long to leave the line before setting, and on how to set. Surface Tension is the champ at walleye tip-up stuff.

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Early ice is jigging spoon time in my book. I am really hooked on the glow-in-color ones right now. Scenic, Jb Lures, Custom Jigs and Spins and JRs all have jigging spoons that turn those pannies' heads. Neon Red or purple for this guy.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

I take my Brothers with, Fish Brothers Tip-Ups that is.


The MarCum LX5 for sure, more on that later.


My Midwest rods are loaded with 1/4 oz Do Devils and AE figging spoons. Get them here TackleCity.com - Click here

I like to setting up on breaks jigging one rod with the tip-ups set at a different depth on the breaks. Spreading out like this helps find where those eyes my be hanging and moving to. It also gives you an indication of the mood of the fish.

I've seen the one presentation and depth out fish another so if your one the ball you make adjustments. Its nice to have Jr or a buddy in the shack with me to pick up any fish that aren't committing to jigs and want a dead line, we have the two tip-ups out covering other water so it a system that works.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • jparrucci
      Very low, probably 2 feet lower than last year at ice out.
    • mbeyer
      what do they look like this spring?
    • SkunkedAgain
      I might have missed a guess, but here are the ones that I noted:   JerkinLips – March 27th, then April 7th Brianf. – March 28th Bobberwatcher – April…. MikeG3Boat – April 10th SkunkedAgain – early April, then April 21st   Definitely a tough year for guesses, as it seemed to be a no-brainer early ice out. Then it got cold and snowed again.
    • mbeyer
      MN DNR posted April 13 as Ice out date for Vermilion
    • Brianf.
      ^^^45 in the morning and 47 in the evening
    • CigarGuy
      👍. What was the water temp in Black Bay? Thanks....
    • Brianf.
      No, that wasn't me.  I drive a 621 Ranger. 
    • CigarGuy
      So, that was you in the camo lund? I'm bummed, I have to head back to the cities tomorrow for a few days, then back up for at least a few weeks. Got the dock in and fired up to get out chasing some crappies till opener!
    • LakeofthewoodsMN
      On the south end...   Lots of ice on the main basin, but it is definitely deteriorating.  Some anglers have been fishing the open water at the mouth of the Rainy River in front of the Lighthouse Gap.  The rest of the basin is still iced over. Pike enthusiasts caught some big pike earlier last week tip up fishing in pre-spawn areas adjacent to traditional spawning areas.  8 - 14' of water using tip ups with live suckers or dead bait such as smelt and herring has been the ticket.  Ice fishing for all practical purposes is done for the year. The focus for the basin moving forward will be pike transitioning into back bays to spawn,  This is open water fishing and an opportunity available as the pike season is open year round on Lake of the Woods. The limit is 3 pike per day with one being able to be more than 40 inches. All fish 30 - 40 inches must be released. With both the ice fishing and spring fishing on the Rainy River being so good, many are looking forward to the MN Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 11th.  It should be epic. On the Rainy River...  An absolutely incredible week of walleye and sturgeon fishing on the Rain Rainy River.     Walleye anglers, as a rule, caught good numbers of fish and lots of big fish.  This spring was one for the books.   To follow that up, the sturgeon season is currently underway and although every day can be different, many boats have caught 30 - 40 sturgeon in a day!  We have heard of fish measuring into the low 70 inch range.  Lots in the 60 - 70 inch range as well.   The sturgeon season continues through May 15th and resumes again July 1st.   Oct 1 - April 23, Catch and Release April 24 - May 7, Harvest Season May 8 - May 15, Catch and Release May 16 - June 30, Sturgeon Fishing Closed July 1 - Sep 30, Harvest Season If you fish during the sturgeon harvest season and you want to keep a sturgeon, you must purchase a sturgeon tag for $5 prior to fishing.    One sturgeon per calendar year (45 - 50" inclusive, or over 75"). Most sturgeon anglers are either a glob of crawlers or a combo of crawlers and frozen emerald shiners on a sturgeon rig, which is an 18" leader with a 4/0 circle hook combined with a no roll sinker.  Local bait shops have all of the gear and bait. Up at the NW Angle...  Open water is continuing to expand in areas with current.  The sight of open water simply is wetting the pallet of those eager for the MN Fishing Opener on May 11th.   A few locals were on the ice this week, targeting pike.  Some big slimers were iced along with some muskies as well.  If you like fishing for predators, LOW is healthy!  
    • Brianf.
      Early bird gets the worm some say...   I have it on good authority that this very special angler caught no walleyes or muskies and that any panfish caught were released unharmed.        
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