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.

Recommended for You

Pike & Muskie

Best Drive-To Pike Waters

Gord Pyzer

Some of Canada's best pike waters are within driving distance.

News

Navionics adds SonarChart Shading to its Platinum+ and HotMaps Platinum cartography

In-Fisherman - April 29, 2019

Navionics adds SonarChart Shading and HotMaps Platinum.

Fish Recipes

Steelhead Trout Niçoise Salad Recipe

This recipe for Steelhead Trout Niçoise Salad is heart healthy, paleo- and gluten-free...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Glenn Walker talks us through the soy-based technology that makes Lure Lock cases spill-proof and scent-proof. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

Frigid Water Smallmouths

Doug Stange swims jigs with precision for frigid-water smallmouths.

Secrets to Busting Big Fish

The In-Fisherman staff tackles super-tough customers, trolling up 50-inch muskies!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

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

Pike & Muskie

How To Catch Pike In Spring

Dan Johnson - April 26, 2016

Spring is prime time for pike. The Prespawn and Postspawn periods offer excellent odds at...

Catfish

All About Catfish

Rob Neumann

Catfish are among the most popular groups of fish with over 7 million catfish anglers...

See More Stories

More Trout & Salmon

Trout & Salmon

Walking A Tight Llne For Steelhead

Matt Straw - June 09, 2013

Notice how red the tag alder is? Mornings have been cold, but the afternoon sun is activating

Trout & Salmon

Stocked Trout Tactics

Jeff Simpson - January 01, 2016

The In-Fisherman staff goes in search of stocked trout.

Trout & Salmon

Tactics For Tailwater Trout

Chris Hoffman - October 13, 2017

Don Wirth: When cold water rushes through the turbines of a dam, an incredible, albeit

See More Trout & Salmon

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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

×