Ice Fishing by Jani Uusitalo

Largemouth Bass

First of all, it’s important to know that largemouth bass prefer to roam the weed edges in winter, looking for prey, so shallow, weedy spots should be top of your lists when looking for bigmouths. When it comes to lures, one of the best lures to go with when ice fishing for bass is the 1/4 oz. Red Eye Shad from Strike King. There are over 50 variations of the Strike King Red Eye, but the best ones are Sexy Gold, Chrome and Blue Gill. Small jigging spoons like Silver Bomber Slabs (1/4 oz.) or Cotton Cordell (1/4 oz. – 3/8 oz), and blade baits such as Silver Buddies, should never be missing from your lure box when ice fishing for bass. Last but not least, tubes like Strike King Bitsy or KVD Dream Shot should also be on your try out list.

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth bass prefer completely different areas than largemouth bass. They prefer rocky and gravelly spots, and can be caught at various depths, from 4 to over 30 ft., but in general, they will stay in shallows when the weather is cloudy. However, when it comes to their feeding preferences in terms of weather, the sunnier, the better. Small jigging spoons are the best choice for smallmouth bass on ice, in yellow, bronze, orange, red hues.

Walleye

Just as for mostly any fish, the walleye feeding habits change during winter, they become picky, and may not commit to your usual jig presentation. Therefore, drop-shot minnow-shaped baits are a good choice to try on in this case. Evidently, jigging spoons in various shapes, sizes and colors are some of the most used lures for walleye in winter. But in some cases, tipping a smaller jigging spoon with a minnow head featuring a big, red eye can considerably improve results.

Aggressive jigging works much better for walleye when ice fishing, than a rather passive presentation. Also, due to the fact that walleye prefer moving water, it’s best to drill your holes near a spring, lake current etc.

Crappie

One of the best ice fishing baits for crappie, and not just crappie, yellow perch or bass too, is a tail hooked fathead minnow to a frostee on a small jig. It will produce a lot of natural vibration in the water, and look very appetizing. Of course, small spoons such as Vikings, Rattl’N Flyers and Frostees are some of the most used, and most productive lures for crappie. But in general, shiny small spoons, 1/16 or 1/8, with a metallic finish in bronze, gold or silver should produce nice crappie, on the ice.

Yellow Perch

Places with healthy weeds are the ones to look for perch in winter. Some of the best choices in terms of lures for perch if ice fishing, are Forage Minnow Spoons, small Swedish Pimples, Lindy’s Rattl’n Flyers or hardbaits such as Jigging Raps or Jigging Shad Raps from Rapala. Perch do move around in winter, and if a school of them finds you, you’d better move fast. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid lures with two treble hooks, or replace them with single hooks, to avoid wasting time unhooking fish. Plus, your fingers won’t freeze.

Rainbow Trout

When fishing for trout in winter, it’s always a good idea to keep your lures close to the bottom, even laying it on the bottom. Some of the most productive ice fishing lures for trout are Gulp Minnows and Gulp Leeches, on a 1/16 – 1/8 jig. Small flasher jigs are also an excellent choice for trout in winter. The Willowleaf blade attached produces just the right amount of flash preferred by trout, when the lure is close to the bottom, or when it hits the bottom.

Photo courtesy to Jani Uusitalo / source flickr.com