End Of Season Ice-FishingBy Bob Jensen - March 1, 2012
Depending on where you live in ice-fishing country, the end of the ice-fishing season is maybe a couple of weeks away or maybe a month away. Regardless of the time remaining, late ice provides perhaps the best fishing from a couple of standpoints. The bite will usually be pretty consistent, the fish will be bigger because the spawn is getting closer, the days are longer, and they're also warmer. Yes, the ice-fishing season is winding down, and that's a good reason to get out every chance you get. And, if an ice-fishing opportunity doesn't readily present itself, you need to make an excuse to go. That shouldn't be hard to do. Here are some things you should keep in mind for late-season ice-fishing success.
The fish seem to be able to sense that spring is getting closer. Maybe it's the longer days, maybe it's something else. I don't know what it is that makes the fish bite better this time of year, but I know they do. The early morning bite can be good, but the mid-day bite can be good also, especially on warm days when the weather is stable. However, that end-of-the-day bite can be outstanding. If you can only be on the ice a few hours, I would choose from mid-afternoon on. However, I wouldn't be disappointed if I could only be out there for a few hours in the morning, and the ideal scenario would to be out all day.
In some areas of the ice-fishing belt, the season for some predators is closed. Much of the time panfish will be the targeted species. A small box of baits is all you need to tempt perch, crappies, or bluegills. Just remember, smaller baits for fish with small mouths. Bluegills and sunfish will really go for a Hard-Rock Mooska Jig or a Gill-Getter tipped with a Gulp! Maggot or Waxie.
For perch and crappies, start with a sixteenth ounce Forage Minnow Spoon and a Gulp! Alive Minnow Head. If they eat this aggressively, go to a bigger spoon.
Keep moving until you find the fish: Don't wait for them to come to you. You go to them.
Dress appropriately. The weather might be nice, but you need to stay dry. Much of the time you'll be kneeling near a hole, and it will probably be sloppy near the hole. This is when you'll appreciate the extra padding in the knees of Cabela's Guidewear. Guidewear might be billed as rain gear, but it's great on the ice. Frabill also has some ice clothing that does an outstanding job of keeping an angler warm and dry.
The fishing this time of year can be outstanding, and sometimes we don't want to quit. You've got to keep an eye on ice conditions though. As you get more experience in ice-fishing, you'll get a feel for the ice's safety. However, you also need to pay attention to what other people are doing. If someone suggests you not drive on the ice anymore, it's usually a good idea to heed that advice. It's fun to be on the ice catching fish, but it's no fun to be under the ice.
Be careful, but get on the ice whenever you get the chance at this time of year. The action can be some of the best you'll experience on the ice.