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New to Ice Fishing - Stupid Questions???


Fish Fry Guy

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Hello everyone... I have to preface this post with the fact that this is my first ice fishing season. I have been out 12 times or so and have a few questions, they may seem elementary to you long time vets but any insight would be greatly appreciated....

1. When Jigging, how often do you jig? Every 5 seconds?

Every 10 seconds?? Etc. How aggressive is the

jigging? 12 inch rise of the rod? Simple wiggle of the

rod?

2. How often do you change bait? How effective is dead

bait if it's been on the line for an hour or so? Should

this be changed?

3. What is the most common bait for Walleye's? Size and

species?

4. Do you often use a bobber? Or do you just jig without?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I'm not asking for any honey holes or anything like that. I just enjoy ice fishing but have had limited luck and really have no one with experience to learn from. Thanks in advance for any help.

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I shoot my aswers for a few questions.

1. I let the fish tell me when to jiggle, how much to jiggle, and how agressive, my flasher or camera will both tell me what they like.

2. unless I'm fishing notherns, I fish lively bait, I 've been using a lot of maggots lately and I don't always take the old ones off, but I bet I atleast put on a new one for every fish or 5 minutes, which ever is first, Minnows, I leave on until the stop swimming as much as I'd like them to.

4.I mainly use spring bobbers, and I have a good idea when fish is going to hit thanks to my flasher, otherwise a neutrally weighted float (just enough so it still floats) is what I use for a bobber, I don't want the fish to feel the pull of the bobber, many people I have seen fishing this winter are using floats that offer too much resistance to sinking when a fish hit, Ice buster bobbers are my favorite for winter, personally anyway.

Far for a vet, but I catch enough fish to make myself happy. grin.gif

Oh and come on, really the only stupid question is an unasked question.

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This is my first ice fishing season too and my parents are urban so no learning experiences but my own. I have been out 7 times this year. I had one night with a decent crappie bite, and a 9 in wally. Not real good, but I have been learning from a lot of reading. The fish DO determine the action. I have caught more on a dead stick than the jigger. I think the combo works well. I may not get much on the jigger, but it lures them in to the deadstick. Here are my thoughts for this year. Normally the ice is thicker and there has been alot of traffic for the fish to get used to. Not to mention more snow. This year the ice is thin and so no vehicle traffic. There is more light penetration through the ice also. And the deep lake spots aren't fished as hard as the known close to shore honey holes. Ask your bait store for locations of farther out structure. They haven't had the pressure cause nobody, except for people that want to catch fish walk a good distance to find a good spot, and most are lazy. Ask about weed lines in deep water, especially near a hole. With little ice and snow, weeds should be better longer this year. The most important piece, MARK FISH!!! Don't wait for them, they are not going to jump into the fry pan, you have to put them there. I call it ice trolling. Just keep looking until you find em. when they quit biting, try a different presentation. If you still get nothing move on. The only time you should set up shop is at around 5. At this point find structure located near a steep hole. Find the place that looks like a good entrance point to the structure. Weeds are the best, because they provide oxygen and small prey. I hope we both do a little better, good luck.

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Fish Fry Guy,

If you are jigging for panfish, I would try to avoid the usual, steryotyped lift/drop jigging motion, as this is an unnatural motion to fish. I would suggest jigging a few feet off the bottom. (Tip your jig with some meat...a waxie or two.) But don't just lift and drop, but rather, use a rapid but slight up/down vibration of the wrist, making your jig "dance". While you are doing that, raise your jig 2-3 feet up in 5-10 seconds, then use that same jigging motion going down to the point where you started. Do this for a few cycles, a few feet off the bottom to "call them in". After doing this for a minute or two, get closer to the bottom and slow things way down. You can still twitch up and down with your wrists while raising your jig, but on a much smaller/subtler scale. Or, just keep your presentation in one spot but tap your line or squeeze your rod handle from time to time. If you don't catch anything in a minute or two, then repeat the cycle.

When you are doing as I described, you are immitating a food source that is trying to escape the predator, which attracts the attention of the fish you are trying to catch.

Another thing I would suggest is to go shallow during the day, where there are some green weeds available for cover, and sight fish. If you got a fishhouse, darken things up, and peer down the hole. Or, if you don't have a fishhouse, grab a blanket, get down on the ice and cover up. Now do that jigging motion to call the fish in. Then lower your jig and wait, using slight taps on your line. You would be amazed how much you can learn about the fish's attitude toward your jigging motions just by watching and observing. If you have a fish checking things out, but you make the wrong move, they will back away, never to return. Experiment in this fashion and discover what works and what doesn't. Remember, that what might seem subtle from your perspective might be an earthquake from the fish's point of view.

You don't need a conventional bobber while jigging over deeper water, but I do suggest using a spring bobber. These detect light bites not otherwise felt.

Good luck.

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Calvinist... VERY well put. Good answer to a very common question. I think even most self proclaimed experianced anglers could learn from that one. I see way too many anglers using the same old jigging motion of up and down... That really doesnt appeal. Try it with a camera down and check the results. The slight quiver with a spring bobber is the way to go. I usually try a few feet 2-4 off bottom and manipulate my bait according to the vex. Technology... What would we do without it? wink.gif

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The Vexilar too, will tell you how good this works as opposed to the usual lift and drop.

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Thanks guys! I did get a vexilar a couple weeks ago and immediately figured out the advantage it gives when showing what is working and what is not.

I had another question on Tip-ups..... How often do you change minnows on a tip up?

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What Cal is talking about I call "shimmering", barely even moving the lure vertically, but more of just bouncing the lure's weight off the rod tip. The lighter action the rod is, the better. I have been working on this tech. for years, and in my experience I catch more and bigger fish jigging than dead-stick w/ a bobber. Plus I prefer the vesatility of the jiggle stick, you can move to the fish quickly w/o moving a bobber and you can always dead-stick with your jigger if that is what provokes a strike.

As far as tip-up bait, if your fishing suckers they seem to stay pretty lively for extended periods of time, so you may just have to check 'um from time to time. Shiners can be farly delicate, but if hooked right stay lively too. The only time I switch my tip-up bait is when a fish makes the decision for me. But then again I ain't much of a tip-up guy.

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I am farely new to the sport myself and I envy the fact that you were smart enough to ask these questions. I, on the other hand, tried to be a Linder and quickly found myself frustrated and discouraged. It wasn't until I started asking the questions that I began to actually enjoy standing in the cold waiting for that chance to even see on fish on the vexilar. I have a few questions myself but my inquisitive nature refrains me from asking them right away. I want to do some trial and error first. And, for you seasoned fisherpeople out there please don't look down on me when I reach that place of frustration again (and I know its coming) and come to you for some clarification and wisdom. For I hope to become wise in the outdoors myself so that I can introduce some other youngster to the outdoors as I once was.

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Hey, when it comes to fishin' we all have to start from "point zero", and gain knowledge and experince from there. I'm still learning new things all the time, and am glad to pass on what I have learned. Also happy to pass on knowledge gained to anyone who has a sincere desire to fish.

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Another trick to use if the fish aren't hitting doing what Calvinist said is to sideways jig. Instead of up/dpwn move your rod tip slightly left/right. Not more than a couple of inches. Most of the time the jigging motion Cal described is the way to go but every once in awhile the sideways jig is a killer. Again you will need to let the fish tell what to do. Also read Matt's and Crappie Tom's posts on vertical versus horizontal jigs. Some days the jig style can really make the difference in the bite. I start with vertical most days but if fish aren't biting I switch to horizontal.

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After putting in at least 200 hours this season on my vex and trying different jigging patterns I found that a quick 1-2 foot rise and drop will drive whatever is in the area to bite. Careful though sometimes you have a fish looking at your jig when you least expect it and a 1-2 foot jig just might scare them off... But 2 out of 5 times i'll get a bite right after the minnow dropped back to its original place. With walleyes i'll set up a minnow about a foot or two off the bottom and just leave it there. Dem fish just seem to be really sketchy and like little amount of movement. Oh btw for everyone who's been following this website... I done caught my first ice fishing walleye this past weekend up at URL. Too bad i couldn't keep 'er.

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Yeah, thank you to all the people who have helped me learn too... i really appreciate it!! Without you I'd be running around in circles out there...

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Well.... I'm still hunting for that first Eye under the ice. I did hook into a couple small northerns on Tuesday, both on the pole. What a BLAST! Both were small, only 24-26 inches or so, but they sure do bend a rod compared to a summer northern. Anyway, I appreciate all of your help. I have put alot of time in this winter, I've been out 3 times a week for 3 to 6 hours and have been learning alot but I'm man enough to know when I could use some advise. Thanks all, and I'll keep on fishin!

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • smurfy
      kettle....have you chased around any sunfish lately???? kinda wondering if there done spawning???? the last time i was up the sunfish we did clean that had eggs in it didnt even look close to spawning. although i know they seem to carry eggs around most of the summer it seems!!!!!!
    • SkunkedAgain
      Maybe the bamboozler will end up being like every fish story, some old timers holding their hands out as wide as possible to demonstrate to a youngster just how big it was....
    • smurfy
      kettle, when are you going to fish for something decent to eat????🤔🤣🤣   nice batch of fish!!!!!!!!!
    • muskie-mike
      My wife agrees about the pizza...was the best...  
    • Kettle
      Fished a bigger lake, fish or at least the eaters are on the mid lake humps. Water Temps 68 degrees, freezer now has 6 total as I've been eating fish often. Tomorrow we chase the 30" walleye for catch and release.  
    • LUCIFER
      Stuntz Bay Boathouse Historic District - Wikipedia   They have some info.  
    • smurfy
      👍that can be arranged!!!
    • MarkB
      I just returned home today from 4 wonderful days of fishing my favorite lake. We arrived late Saturday and was able to fish a bit that evening. Our group was comprised of my cousin, one of our very close friends and myself. On Saturday evening we managed to catch 16 walleyes on crawlers, leeches, and minnows. In spite of less than perfect weather conditions(95 degree heat and high to near hurricane force winds) we ended up with 103 walleyes boated and perhaps that many missed and lost during retrieval through Wednesday early afternoon. Minnows worked best one day, leeches worked great one day, and crawlers were the ticket Wednesday with our biggest fish of the trip coming that day. The bites ranged from very light to jerk the rod out of your hand. Our terminal gear consisted of jig/minnow, Lindy rig, to my old standby 4 ft leader, 1oz bouncer, 2 red beads, and a Gamakatsu size 8 orange hook. The bouncer rig outfished the rest by a wide margin. Speed was a huge factor and .4-.6mph was the speed that worked best. The high winds made boat control/speed a real challenge. We caught all of our fish from 8ft to 24ft with the optimun depth ~14ft give or take. When we got to the lake the water temp was 64.5 degrees and yesterday afternnon when we quit, it was 68.5 degrees. We did not see any significant amounts of mayflies except in the water columns in a few areas of the lake. The fish we cleaned went from stuffed with mayflies, full of crawdads, to full of perch minnows. We found the fish in the rocks and on mud flats. I looked for the fish with sonar and only fished where I found fish. I found our fish in the east end of Big Bay, Daisy Bay, Armstrong Bay, Portage Bay, and Bystrom Bay. We caught fish at every place we stopped. Wind dictated where we fished on any given day. On Monday, I had to cross the east end of Fraser Bay and in over 60 years, I have never seen it that rough.  We found the cheapest gas at Shamrock Marina($6.29/gal) and the best bait at the Y store. We have eaten pizza at the Vermilion Club for more years than I can count and, to put it bluntly, we were very disappointed this year. To us, it was definitely not the same quality of pizza we have become accustomed to. Suffice it to say, we will be ordering something different from the menu in the future. All in all, Lake Vermilion provided us with another lasting memory. Great fishing on the greatest lake in Minnesota. We will return in mid-September and we are already anxious. Pictured below is my cousin with two nice walleyes caught 10 minutes apart. They were caught on crawlers.   Good Fishing MarkB🙂    
    • Wanderer
      Maybe pay him in smoked pike so he can taste some fish instead just crunching down on walleyes all the time! 😉
    • smurfy
      Hey stay outta it.😫🤭🙄 😊   Thanks kettle I may take you up on that sometime.
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