Early and late ice are coveted periods of time for ice anglers targeting crappie, sunfish and bluegill. The fish are often predictable and aggressive during these periods. Whether you are an experienced angler or a novice, these windows often provide some of the best fishing of the winter. The midwinter period can see success drop off, but these lulls can still be productive with a few adjustments.
Here are five quick fixes to help you catch a lot more panfish during the dreaded midwinter period (lull).
1. Drop down to lighter line. Four pound test combined with the weight of tungsten can shine at early and late ice, but when the bite gets tougher, you will be amazed at how many more fish can be caught by dropping down to fresh two pound test.
2. Master the Subtle Quiver. When fishing gets tough, the most delicate and subtle quiver often triggers bites. The right quiver creates a soft vibration on the jig and tail while the jig stays in one place. Use a spring bobber to master this technique.
3. Spooler reels enable ice anglers to present a jig with little to no twist or turn as the jig hangs in the water. The less you have to do to trigger a bite, the more this type of a reel can increase your success.
4. Experiment with vertical jigs like Clam Pro Tackle’s Maggot Drop. Soft plastics can be hooked to hang horizontally but vertical jigs move less water and have less of a profile, which shine on a tough bite. Remember that panfish often rise up to the jig, and when looking from below, vertical jigs look much smaller than horizontal jigs.
5. Force yourself to fish fresh ice. There might not be many secrets left by midwinter, and many of the well known locations are covered with old frozen holes. The primary reason fishing can become tougher in midwinter is because many fish have already been caught, so the fish that are left are not competing against as many fish. If you can force yourself away from the tried and true spots and explore some new locations that haven’t been pressured, you are going to catch more and bigger fish. If you are using the Humminbird Helix 5 or 7 conversion kits, make sure to check out the LakeMaster map cards to navigate new areas.