Everyone can stand to do a little more catchin’ when venturing out on the ice this time of year. However, ice anglers typically settle into a routine when they head out onto the ice. They catch several fish and then the action slows down or stops entirely. Maybe they change depths, colors or holes a few times, but that is about it. Once they stop catching fish based upon this routine, they quit and blame it on the fish - "they just stopped biting." Next time before you mutter this phrase again, try the following tips and techniques.
1.The style of one's ice jig is just as important as its color. Most anglers are accustomed to using a tear-dropped shaped jig that hangs vertically in the water. When fish stop biting vertical jigs, switch to a jig that hangs horizontally.
2. Most anglers only move their jig in an up and down jigging motion. Fish become accustomed to this presentation and stop reacting to it. For a change of pace, try holding the line between your index finger and thumb. Next roll or twist the line between your fingers. This will cause the jig to spin in the water while remaining at the same depth. Also, try moving the jig around the perimeter of the hole without imparting any up and down motion on the jig. Fish respond especially well to this technique in shallow water.
3. For a stiff neck and a few more fish, try staring down the hole and watching as fish take the bait. This approach is excellent for learning how fish respond to various baits and jigging techniques. One's hope is to be looking down the hole when the fish inhales the jig. Remember, brightly colored jigs that hang horizontally work best since they are visible at greater depths and in stained water.
4. When action slows, instead of changing colors, try changing the size of your jig. This tip works both ways - switching from a smaller to a larger jig and from a larger to a smaller jig.
5. When fishing with a spring bobber setup, a simple way to catch a couple extra fish is to set the rod down and allow the bait to sit totally motionless. Even if you think that you can hold the rod totally motionless in your hand, place the rod down on the ice or in a rod stand to catch a few more fish.
6. In shallow water, cover the hole with ice shavings to block out light penetration into the water. This applies in both clear and stained water lakes. In stained water, the use of a glow in the dark jig also works well with this approach.
7. For deep water ice fishing, don’t use ultralight monofilament line. Two-pound test or lighter monofilament line has so much stretch that it is difficult to detect light bites or to set the hook in depths greater than 20 feet. The key to catching more fish in deep water is to use a super line. The most effective of these lines for ice fishing is PowerPro line. PowerPro makes a line with the diameter of one pound test monofilament, but with the strength of eight-pound test. In addition, PowerPro line has nearly no stretch and is extremely abrasion resistant. This lack of stretch means one can feel more bites and hook more fish in deep water.
My name is Dan Kidder, I am Managing Editor of Sportsman's News Magazine. I am a former Marine who served with the Fleet Anti Terrorism Security Team Company during Operation Desert Storm. Prior to moving to Utah, I served as communications director for Georgia Congressman Mac Collins in his Washington, DC office. I am the President and CEO of On Target Defensive Training, offering firearms and unarmed combat courses to civilians and law enforcement. My students have included federal agents of the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, Border Patrol, ICE, local and state law enforcement, national celebrities, and the general public. My beat at Sportsman's News includes tactical firearms, personal protection, survival, first aid, camping, and hiking.