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A little more than a year ago I lost a good friend and fellow Ice Team teammate Jim Hudson. Jim was known to be more cautious than many of us, so his passing made us seriously think. It only takes a few seconds for a situation to escalate to epic proportions.
After receiving a call from an outdoor writer I have worked with for a while he asked for some insight outside of the normal fishing report or tip. He wanted to know what a guy has to do to be safer on the ice.
I think the first thing a guy has to do is be prepared and be proactive, not reactive. For me this means having safety items not only with me, but at arm’s length.
Clam has introduced several items that are specifically designed for ice safety.
Throw Bag—a rope bag that can be clipped to your machine or sled so it is handy if you ever need to use it.
Ice Pics—These floating pics are placed around your neck and help you get back on top of the ice if you are to fall in.
Spud Bar—A few seconds checking the ice thickness and areas around cracks will go a long way to keep you from getting wet or worse.
Life Jacket—This life jacket is designed to be worm under a large outer jacket. Complete with lined pockets and a place to put your pics around to make sure they are always there.
These are just a few things to consider when heading out on the ice. Make sure to keep your guard up and have things prepared for the worst. Jim was an extremely experienced ice guide who made a few simple mistakes that cost him. I know every time I go on the ice now I think of him at some point realize that I’m not tougher than Mother Nature and freezing water.
Capt. Ross Robertson
The Lindy 360 Ice Jig utilizes a revolutionary concept to create a rotating jig. Featuring a body that rotates on an internal axle, this jig produces an impressive amount of movement, flash, vibration, and water displacement. These factors are often critical to producing strikes. Once the jig is underwater, the body taps against the axle and the bead making a noise and vibration that calls curious fish in from a distance.
Whether you use this jig slowly and gently or quickly and aggressive, the Lindy 360 Ice Jig will get the job done. When jigged slowly, the 360 jig will producing gentle flashes and when jigged aggressively, the 360 jig spins into a blur, creating a flurry of flash and vibration. Aggressive jigging will attract fish from afar and often trigger aggressive strikes.
As a full time professional angler I am often told I think outside the box. Ironically this large amount of time that we spend fishing also makes us rely on things that we know work and often cuts down on experimentation if we let it. Rattle baits through the ice for walleyes and even pike, crappies and perch has been a very successful tactic for several years. Nearly every manufacture now has a bait that can be used for the hard water.
AGGRESSIVE TACTICS WITH LIPLESS CRANKBAITS FOR THE HARD WATER
Walleye anglers tend not to invent new tools as much as they use existing tools in different ways. Case in point: Over the last few seasons, a common trend has been to fish
lipless rattle baits through the ice. Rattle baits buck conventional ice fishing wisdom; that is, subtle jigs, spoons and live-bait rigs are the best tools for finessing cold-water fish in clear water into biting. But what anglers are finally realizing is that by using more aggressive presentations, they can appeal to the true predatory nature of walleyes.
In the Beginning
It’s unclear when the rattle bait trend started. Years ago, anglers targeting pike often used Bill Lewis RatL-Traps through the ice, and apparently caught enough walleyes by accident to see the potential. Some anglers contend that the technique got its start in
the stained trophy waters of Lake Winnipeg.
However it started, walleye ice anglers have primarily relied on the rattle baits produced for the bass-fishing market. It used to be there were only a handful of options, but today, new colors and sizes, different pitches of rattles and fancier finishes are available. A few manufacturers such as Lindy and Northland have even developed their own rattle baits specifically for icing walleyes.
Now anglers can find just the right lure to use, whether it be in the ginclear waters of Lake Ontario all the way to Lake of the Woods, and at inland lakes in between. Few fishermen are as knowledgeable about dunking rattle baits as National Guard FLW Walleye Tour pro Carl Adams Jr. of Blackduck, Minn. He shared some of his best tips.
For several years now manufacturers such as Berkley, Custom Jigs and Spins, Northland, Lindy and Little Atom have been producing micro-sized plastic baits designed specifically for the ice fishing angler. This past season we saw new bait releases from Clam, VMC and Trigger X. These baits are not simply a fad, they are here to stay because they work great. Sure, there are times when natural bait is all the fish are keying in on. Many anglers still start the day off jigging a live minnow or waxie, but for times when the bite is off, the appeal of finesse plastics can save the day.
Berkley’s PowerBait Micro Wigglers and Honey Worms are always popular baits for targeting panfish and trout through the ice and work well with a variety of jigs. The prerigged Atomic Fry and Atomic Mite offer a micro jig/plastic that is ready to tie on and fish. These baits all feature Berkley’s familiar PowerBait scent, which let’s face it – fish love. More recently Berkley’s line of Gulp! And Gulp! Alive! Baits have become favorites on the hard water. Classic leech, minnow and waxie patterns join more specialized baits such as minnow heads and fish fry.
Have you ever thought to yourself, what motivates me to spend countless hours on a stream, lake, or river? Is it the time spent with friends and family? Is it the aesthetics? Is it the surprise of a float disappearing under the water? There is always a motivation that drives anglers to have a passion for fishing, and more often than not, there are multiple motivations.
Have you ever seen somebody on the stream with their fly rod held high? Do you wonder what they are doing in the middle of the stream? They are performing the art of high sticking also known as short line nymphing. This type of fishing will often out produce other techniques. Some of my best days on the streams occur when I am high sticking. It is a great skill to learn for use when there is no hatch present.