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Guide's corner: Late ice panfish are finicky

Apr. 1, 2014
 

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Successful ice fishermen targeting walleyes and northern pike know that finding areas of green weeds often means finding the areas consistently holding more and bigger fish; the same holds true for bluegills.

Finding green weeds in winter, especially during late winter, can be a challenge. This often will require an angler to drill several holes in different locations to locate the prime spots. If you are bringing up dead brown weeds, move; it will be worth it.

While many a crappie or bluegill is caught during summer on 1/4-ounce or even 3/8-ounce jigs by walleye fishermen, the wintertime is a different story. Make sure to have an array of not only styles and colors, but sizes as well.

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Jigs of size 10, 12 and 14 are ideal for finicky pan fish during the cold-water months. Often during a tough bite, downsizing your presentation can make a big difference. In addition, be sure to use a sensitive rod to detect light bites.

The rivers and flowages of our area are littered with stumps, logs and blow-downs of all sorts. Although green weeds are excellent bluegill habitat, wood structure also will hold bluegills, as well as crappies, perch and other species. Locating good areas to fish is often done during summer through the use of your boat’s electronics or by locating likely areas visually; mark these areas on your GPS or map to be able to find them again during winter.

Once the water is frozen, you can analyze the shoreline, especially if there is a sharper break to it; look for logs, stumps and the like that may hint at good wood cover located there.

There is a variety of live bait selections to choose from when ice fishing for pan fish; wax worms, spikes, mousies and meal worms are a few of the more popular. As carrying an assortment of jigs is important, it pays it carry an assortment of live bait as well. You might be surprised how fickle our finned friends can be. Many an ice-fishing outing has been saved by experimenting to find the “hot” live-bait choice. If you don’t bring an assortment with you, you leave yourself with limited options should the fish change their minds.

I’ll see you on the water …

Read more from Joel DeBoer.

Joel DeBoer is owner of Wisconsin Angling Adventures Guide Service, www.wisconsinanglingadventures.com.

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