Yamaha Outdoors Tip of the Week - Effective Ice Fishing

By Steve Hickoff

 

Your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle will help you carry your gear to the shoreline parking spot along the frozen location you want to fish. From there, post-ride, the following tactics will help you enjoy the day even more:
Bite depth
 
To the novice, it’s a matter of lowering bait and waiting. To the veteran ice angler, the depth to which you place that offering is everything. Depth maps can help you pattern locations before you park that rig and cut your four wheeler’s ignition.
 
If you want to catch panfish (sunfish, bluegills, black crappie, etc.), lower your bait to the bottom, then reel it up a few turns. Jigging will impart movement. Tip-ups keep the bait steady. Both work. Given the option, I keep it moving, though fresh bait does that too.

Rainbow trout where I fish in New England seem to prefer bait only a foot or two under the lid of ice. Brown trout seem to like shallow water as opposed to deeper spots. Lake trout (“togue” to you Mainers) roam along drop-offs, where the depth might go from five to fifteen feet in a hurry.
 
You need to be sitting where the fish you want to catch concentrate.

 

Structure
 
The world you see on a frozen lake consists of expansive stretches of white framed by distant shoreline trees and often a stark wintry sky.

 

Beneath the surface, the same weedy spots, submerged timber, and rocky tributary inlets you cast into during the open-water months still provide cover for game fish both large and small.

 

That’s where your bait (or moving lure on the end of a jigging rod) should be.
 
Time of day
 
Low-light morning periods and late-afternoon phases seem to trigger activity among certain species, particularly trout in my experience. Target species such as black crappies often hit when light begins to penetrate snow and ice. Predatory chain pickerel, always a fun species to make your slow day full of action, seem to strike all the time.
 
As a rule, one notion holds that you fish lakes and ponds with consistently darker water during brighter winter days, and clearer hard-water angling locations during overcast periods.

 

Bite depth, structure, and time of day. Noting these three key factors during your ice time will help to put fish on your line this winter.

 

The only way to know for sure? Get out there.

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