Skip to main content

Last Ice Already?

Last Ice Already?

Sandhill cranes seemed to be everywhere. Swans, geese, and ducks were winging north as I made my way east, toward Wisconsin. Two eagles locked talons and fell spriraling toward a field north of the road.

Everything is happening earlier than anyone can remember, including last ice. The fish don't seem to know how to behave.

Chris Beeksma, John Paulson, and I caught some nice crappies this week in north-central Wisconsin, but the big bluegills that generally inhabit the flats we were fishing were nowhere to be found with my little Aqua-Vu Micro. Generally, the 'gills are there through ice-out. Obviously, we couldn't drive around hunting for them, so we tried some other lakes where we could walk out to good spots.


Back on foot patrol. Seems like last week we were fishing first ice, walking out for panfish. At least the warm weather — should say extremely warm — pushed those bands of 38°F water higher in the column. Crappies were biting within 7 feet of the ice in 16 feet of water.


Last week I wrote about using nail polish with TC Tackle jigs (406/683-5485) for steelhead. I do the same thing with panfish jigs. This is a selection of 1/64-ouncers with size #10-hooks, arranged in the same style of fly box from Plano. I use these jigs year 'round. I have boxes of 1/80-ounce heads with size #12 and #14 hooks for maggots and small plastics — like the one pinned to the blank of my Thorne Brothers Quiverstick.  One box sports 1/32-ounce heads with size #6 and size #4 hooks for minnows. The box at right, however, is the one I use most for bluegills spring through winter.

Several years ago at ice-out, the bluegills we were catching all had bright, metallic-green mush in their throats. Hmm. Looking around, I saw water beetles with backs the same color. Back home, I hunted through my selection of nail polish until I found a bottle in the same metallic green hue as those beetles. Jigs polished in that shade have been the most effective I've used in that fishery ever since.

Bluegills and crappies can't compare with steelhead when it comes to being selective about things. They often accept any shade of the right color. But, find the precise color and the difference can be amazing, and generally worth a lot more bites than those around you are getting. Even when they're biting every color in the box, there always seems to be one color that excites fish more than any other.

That was the case this week, too. Color and jig style were interesting subjects. More on that tomorrow.




Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Lake Superior Whitefish on Ice

Doug Stange joins Capt. Aron Kastern on Lake Superior near Ashland, Wisconsin where they go after whitefish on ice.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

Channel Cats on Ice

Channel Cats on Ice

The In-Fisherman staff reveals some of the hottest action of the winter season, as they show how to ice 20-pound channel catfish.

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

The True Story of the Bass Boat Hero Who Broke the Internet

“If that engine starts without my kill switch on, I ain't the one driving it,” Blake Broussard says after ejection video goes viral.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is simply a matter of putting a good bait in the right in front of them. 8 Best Catfish Rigs - When, Where and How to Use Them Catfish

8 Best Catfish Rigs - When, Where and How to Use Them

In-Fisherman

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...

The big discussion is over the legality for the public to wade in or walk alongside rivers.Understanding Riverine Rights Today Catfish

Understanding Riverine Rights Today

Dan Anderson - October 28, 2020

The big discussion is over the legality for the public to wade in or walk alongside rivers.

You're going to love this Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe! These deep-fried walleye strips are tasty and dress up nicely when served in a basket or on a plate with fresh fruit such as grapes and strawberries.Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe Fish Recipes

Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe

In-Fisherman

You're going to love this Beer-Battered Fish Fingers Recipe! These deep-fried walleye strips...

Triggering big fish is all about putting something down there that moves like animals walleyes eat.Walleye Lures: A Shade Beyond Convention Walleye

Walleye Lures: A Shade Beyond Convention

Cory Schmidt - September 18, 2019

Triggering big fish is all about putting something down there that moves like animals walleyes...

See More Trending Articles

More Trout & Salmon

A look at the best lake trout waters on the planet. World's Best Lake Trout Waters Trout & Salmon

World's Best Lake Trout Waters

Matt Straw - September 07, 2017

A look at the best lake trout waters on the planet.

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girthLake Trout Length To Weight Conversion Chart Trout & Salmon

Lake Trout Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2016

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

Standing shoulder to shoulder with someone casting in the same hole can be the norm nowadaysReaders Journal: Combat fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead and Brown Trout Trout & Salmon

Readers Journal: Combat fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead and Brown Trout

Matt Michalski - December 30, 2020

Standing shoulder to shoulder with someone casting in the same hole can be the norm nowadays

See More Trout & Salmon

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now