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Put More Fish On The Ice!

By Bob Jensen - January 1, 2011

There are several different species of fish that anglers chase through the ice. Some anglers like to catch walleyes, other like to get after perch. Pike are popular in some places, and crappies and other types of panfish are favored in others.

Different species of fish respond to different presentations. Walleyes like spoons, panfish like tiny jigs, and pike like natural baits. If you're targeting a particular species of fish, you need to employ a technique that that specie is most likely to respond to.

However, there are some basic principles of fishing that you need to keep in mind regardless of what fish you want to catch. Following are some of those basic principles.

The most important consideration is finding the areas where the fish are most likely to bite your bait. Some community holes will hold lots of fish, but fishing pressure makes those fish very selective. Take some time to search out other areas away from the fishing pressure: Those fish will be more likely to eat, making them easier to catch.

Once you find the fish, you want to keep your bait above them for a couple of reasons. First of all, fish see up better than they see down. If your bait is above them, they're more likely to see it, which makes them more likely to eat it.

The other reason for keeping your bait above the fish is to possibly prevent spooking the other fish in the area. If you see fish on the sonar, drop your bait but stop it when it's still two or three or four feet above the fish. Active fish will come up and take the bait. Catch the active ones first. If they quit rising to the bait, then allow it to get closer to them. If you drop it into the group of fish right away and catch a couple, the rest of the school might spook. Make the active ones move away from the school to get caught to prevent spooking.

Another important thing to keep in mind for more ice-fishing success for any specie: If they're not responding to what you're doing, do something else. If you chase panfish when you're ice-fishing, you probably know how productive some of the different baits in the Bro's Bug Collection can be. Maybe you just hammered the gills on a Slug Bug last time out. The Slug Bug comes with a plastic tail that quivers enticingly and almost always attracts nearby bluegills.

But sometimes one of Bro's Mud Bugs with a Gulp! Maggot or Gulp! Waxie will be better. The tail on the Slug Bug wiggles, the Gulp! doesn't. There are times when the scent and taste of the Gulp! will be more appealing to the fish than the wiggling of the Slug Bug. You've gotta give them what they want. You can't make the fish do what you want them to.

Last thing: As we get farther into the ice-fishing season, don't sit on one hole too long. I know lots of ice-anglers that just keep moving. If they're on a big structure, they'll put an auger, sonar, everything else they need into a portable shelter and just keep popping holes until they find the fish. The Frabill Commando is perfect for this plan of attack. It's easy to pull and provides a great platform for fishing.

Now is when you need to be ice-fishing. If you practice the principals we just talked about, you'll be more successful in your ice-fishing.

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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