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Four Tips For More Ice-Fishing Success

By Bob Jensen - December 1, 2009
When a person goes fishing, they want to catch a fish, or better yet, several fish. That's true whether we're talking ice-fishing or open-water fishing. Sure it's fun to watch the wildlife and the setting sun and spend time with family and friends, but it's a lot more fun to catch fish than not catch fish when you go fishing. Here are some ideas for catching more fish through the ice in the next few months.

When fishing is slow, get as many lines in the water as possible. Be very sure that you know the rules of where you're fishing when it comes to the number of lines you can have in the water. Some states in the Midwest allow two lines, others permit more. Know how many you can have, then get that number down there.

When you're fishing from a shelter, hold a rod in your hand, and have another line with a slip-bobber on it. Work the rod in your hand more aggressively with a spoon or a jig, and let the slip-bobber rod with just a minnow or wiggler on it work more passively. Let the fish show you the presentation they want.

Many successful anglers like to put a tip-up out a short distance away from their fishing location. The Pro-Thermal tip-ups that Frabill produces are low maintenance and will catch those cruisers that would go uncaught.

Another thing. Keep the bait above the fish. Fish see up better than they see down, so if your bait is above them, they have a better chance of seeing it.

It works well to "pound" the bottom with your bait a couple of times to get the fish's attention, but when you see a fish on the sonar, get your bait a couple of feet above it. If it won't come up for the bait, lower it just a bit. Many of the sonar units that are in use today do a great job of showing fish and even the tiniest lures. The Humminbird ICE 55 reveals everything that goes on under the ice.

Try new lures. Fish get conditioned to the same lure day after day. One lure they haven't seen much of is the Puppet Minnow. You can alter its action by where you attach your line to it. I fished it in open water this fall with great success.

When fishing pressured fish, less action on your bait is usually better.

Hard-to-see line is also usually better on finicky fish. Many anglers tie a short fluorocarbon leader to their main line because fluorocarbon is as close to invisible under the water as it gets. The new Trilene 100 percent Fluorocarbon is really good stuff. When it comes to fishing, there are no guarantees, but if you keep the above ideas in mind, you'll improve your odds for getting bit through the ice.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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