In this category on the ANGLR fishing intelligence blog, you’ll find useful articles about ice fishing. Browse expert advice on chasing perch, crappie, muskie, pike, walleye, trout, bass or other species through the ice. Learn about all the gear options before your next outing.

How to Locate Hot Spots With Ice Fishing Electronics

Finding fish is a little like playing Clue, being a biologist, tarot card reading, and playing Craps. All of those things, plus skill. Ice fishing electronics can help. Knowing how to locate the fish when, where, and why takes a mixture of knowledge and skill.

Anglers rely on a number of ways to locate their honey hole; often a combination of old-school search methods and technology. While technology has made great advancements in a number of areas, ice fishing hasn’t really had that many advancements. Much of the tech that is available is monetarily preventative, so many still rely on the old fashioned ways.

Gus Glasgow, ANGLR Expert, tells us a little about how to use your brains and brawn, as well as technology to locate those panfish under the ice.

Meet The Simplest Way To Track Your Ice Fishing Trips

Ice Fishing Electronics: Searching Through The Ice Evolves

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“Back when I first started ice fishing we pretty much ran tip-ups. That’s pretty much all we had to go with,” Glasgow began. “Jigging existed, but the jigging rod hadn’t advanced yet.” There was no drag, no systems, no mechanics. The jigging rod basically looked like a fiberglass pole with a plastic spool on the top of it, unlike the traditional jigging rods of today, where it’s mounted on the bottom.

“It was literally a plastic spool.” A fisherman could adjust the bolt on the top to add tension to it. The 24” rods are extremely stiff with one eye on the very end. You can still pick one of these basic rods up for around five dollars.

Many use these rods now for dead-sticking.

As ice fishing evolved, fishermen began to see manufacturers shrinking their rods into what looked like a 24”-36” trout rod with several eyes. The technology slowly started to get better. “Now, we’re using 32”-34” noodle rods, which are typically fiberglass. They’re extremely flexible, ultralight, and ultra sensitive. Rod-wise, we’ve advanced ten-fold.

Ice Fishing Electronics: Kickin’ It Old School

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Without technology, there’s no clear-cut way of “locating” fish under the ice, aside from knowing their cycle and where the baitfish are hanging out. Set your tip-ups out in an area that you are pretty sure there are going to be fish. Base your decision on what you logged into your ANGLR App last season, by talking to local fishermen, asking at your bait shop, or seeing where other angers have drilled holes.

If you don’t have advanced GPS, you can drop a lead weight into the water clipped onto the end of your hook to see how deep the bottom is.

You can drill 10-20 holes out in a straight line in the center of the lake, checking thickness as you go. If you have a buddy with you, they can follow behind looking for changes with the depth checker, marking changes in depth, creek channels, and evidence of weeds coming up.

Use that information to set the depth on your tip ups. Raise the line off the bottom a foot or so, wherever you want to target, and mark the line with a small split shot so you know what depth to set your bait.

“Running tip-ups is actually sort of exciting,” shares Glasgow. “It’s pretty fun, watching one of those flags pop, and you take off running because you’ve got a bite.”

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Ice Fishing Electronics: Becoming Progressive

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The flasher has become the most common tool that you’ll see on the ice with MarCum and Vexilar being the industry leaders. While they’ve added some sensitivity and LED screens, the technology has been relatively unchanged for decades. Unfortunately, flashers don’t usually come equipped with GPS technology, with the exception of Marcum’s RT-9 package, valued at $1,700.

“In recent years, people have started using small, open water fish finders meant to be mounted on a boat, and they’re adapting them to ice fishing,” says Glasgow. “So, there are two routes you can go: you can either carry a flasher and a handheld GPS with map cards, which can be quite expensive, or you could carry a fish finder with a GPS built in.”

Many people don’t really care to use the fish finder, claiming that the flasher is more accurate, giving more instantaneous feedback. “I, myself, actually carry a Lowrance, made for a boat, that was not meant for ice fishing.”

Lugging all of that a mile or more across the ice, pushing through snow can be a drag.

“We’re always looking for something that’s going to be lightweight, easy access, and easy to store,” he says. The industry really needs a way to be able to market towards the majority of the population that can’t afford to invest in big tech. GPS technology that can look at contours, creek channels, points, humps in the lake, rock bottoms; all of those things can be shown on maps, and we use those things to find our fish throughout the seasons.

Glasgow predicts that fishing apps will begin including more and more of this, often difficult to access, information as time goes on.

A Basic Ice Fishing Setup: What to Take for Your Day on the Ice

If you’re new to the sport of ice fishing and wondering what a basic ice fishing setup looks like, you’re going to want to pay attention!

If it’s been a while since you’ve stepped foot on the ice, you’re going to want to take a peek!

ANGLR got together with Ryan Fox, one of our ANGLR Experts who has plenty of ice time under his belt, and put together the list to end all lists: exactly what you need to gather for a successful day on the ice. We’ve taken the guesswork out of your trip so you can focus on catching your share of perch and crappie.

Meet The Simplest Way To Track Your Ice Fishing Trips

Basic Ice Fishing Setup: Comfort is Important

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You’re going to want to keep yourself comfortable, so some sort of popup ice shelter or tent can really come in handy. You can put a small heater inside and head in for a quick warm-up when the wind starts to blow and it gets really cold. You can even drill holes inside the tent and fish inside when the weather outside is less than ideal.

You’ll definitely need to dress warmly, and in layers.

Waterproof, insulated boots and waterproof pants or bibs are essential. Many times, you wind up kneeling on the ice, so you don’t want your knees getting wet. As for the rest of your attire, warm clothes and hand warmers are important. Often times, ice fishing turns into a friendly get together with other anglers, so you’ll want to be sure you’re comfortable when you’re not running around drilling holes. When you’re cold, there’s no possible way to have any fun.

Coffee or a warm beverage of your choice is always helpful to keep you going and warm you up from the inside. It takes a lot to set up for ice fishing, so you’ll want to plan to be there for at least a few hours, if not the whole day. I like to bring cans of soup. When I turn the heater on in the tent, I’ll place the cans on top (with the labels peeled off) so they’re nice and hot when I’m ready for them. Bring anything else you like to snack on: sandwiches, chips, or sodas.

Sunglasses are important, too. When that sun comes out and beats down on that white expanse, it can really hurt your eyes. Make sure you’re protecting them.

Basic Ice Fishing Setup: A Good Sled

You’ll need a sled to haul all your good stuff out on the ice, and lucky for you, they make them specifically for ice fishing. They can be pretty big, but on average, they’re usually about five feet long by three and ½ feet wide with high sides to carry all of your gear. Many of them have built in rod holders, but if they’re not included, you can pack your rods in a five gallon bucket to keep them upright.

Basic Ice Fishing Setup: Ice Auger

You’ll need something to drill your holes with, and you have options. There are many choices from doing the work manually with a hand auger to gas or electric power drills. Check out our top choices for Ice Augers!

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Along the same lines, you’ll need an ice scooper to scoop out the slush that starts to build back up in your hole.

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Basic Ice Fishing Setup: Jigging Rod and Baits

There are two ways to ice fish: using a jigging rod or tip-ups. Most ice anglers find that they use a combination of the two when out on the ice. A jigging rod is essentially a fishing rod downsized to something between two and three feet long.

On my jigging rod, I like to use teardrop jigs. They’re just a small teardrop weight with a hook that comes out. They’re great for your panfish: perch, sunfish, bluegill, and crappie. There are other lures you can use, including a jigging rap.

That’s an ice fishing lure that, when you jig it, it jigs straight up through the water column.

There are fins on the side, so it glides on it’s way back down, looking like a minnow swimming around. They’re typically used for bigger game fish like bass, pike, and pickerel. I also like to use waxworms, mealworms, or spikes (another type of maggot). Small plastics can work, too.

Basic Ice Fishing Setup: Tip-Ups

A tip-up is a device you place over your hole with a live minnow on the end. When the fish bites the minnow and pulls the line, a flag goes up, signaling the bite. That means you can be farther away doing something else, but when you see the flag go up, you can run over to catch the fish.

You’ll be using split shot sinkers and a live bait rig with minnows on your tip-ups.

In Pennsylvania, the limit for one person is five fishing devices while you’re out. So, I’ll drill at least five holes and put up four tip-ups, and jig in the other hole. Usually, I’ll drill an extra five to six holes in different depth zones and use those holes to find the fish. Once I find what depth they’re holding in, I’ll move my tip-ups to that depth zone. I’ll set my tip-ups, then I like to jump around to other holes with my jig until either a tip-up goes off or I start catching fish with the jigs.

Basic Ice Fishing Setup: Map of the Water

You’ll typically want to have a map of the water with you showing you how deep the lake is. I like to look for sharp drops in the contours of the lake. Many times in the winter, you’ll see the fish set up on steep banks or sharp drops like a shoal that comes up in the lake.

Basic Ice Fishing Setup: Electronics

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While not necessary for beginners, many seasoned anglers will use ice fishing electronics like a fishfinder. That’s a portable sonar device with a transducer that hangs down into the hole, sending a signal down to the bottom. It reads that signal and can tell whether or not there are fish in that hole.

Once you find the fish, you can drop your bait down with the jigging rod, and see it go all the way down. You can then watch the fish come up and eat your bait. That’s how you can tell when you’ve got one, if the bites aren’t very tough and the fish aren’t acting very aggressively. At that point, it may be easier to go by sight, rather than feel, taking a lot of the guesswork out of ice fishing and often making it more enjoyable.

The ANGLR App is perfect for logging your trips and it’s easy to use.

I’ll mark my catches using my Bullseye and then go back at the end of the day and see where I’ve been on the map and where I caught fish. While you don’t cover as much water when ice fishing, if you go multiple times and in different spots, you can use the log book to see what you’ve caught in different locations and create a better game plan for your next trip.

Basic Ice Fishing Setup: Safety Gear

Always carry a length of rope that’s around 50 feet with something attached to the end of it that floats. If your partner falls through the ice, you can always throw that rope to them to help pull them out.

There are ice picks you can wear around your neck like a necklace. When you fall through, you can get to the edge of the ice and stab it to pull yourself out.

If you’re not sure whether or not the ice is safe, wear an inflatable life jacket.

Ice cleats are available to strap onto the bottom of your shoes. If there’s no snow cover on top, it makes it easier to get traction to pull the sled. You can also more easily run to your tip-ups when the flag goes up. It makes moving around on the ice easier and safer.

It doesn’t really take much to get yourself set up for a day on the ice, but by being prepared ahead of time, it’ll make your trip run smoothly and hopefully end with a full cooler!

Ice Fishing Technology: The Evolution of Ice Fishing Electronics

The world of open water fishing technology is constantly changing, yet ice fishing technology has remained relatively unchanged until recent years. ANGLR has created a device that is going to change the game for ice fishing electronics.

Ice Fishing Technology: Old School Tactics

When I was first introduced to ice fishing almost 30 years ago, we used a small 1 to 2-ounce lead weight attached to an alligator grip that we called a “depth checker” to check water depth… how about that for a technical name?  

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My uncle, Paul Glasgow, would often make his own clips out of spent 30-06 shell casings filled with lead and an alligator clip melted into the lead. We would attach the clip to a lure or hook and then drop the weight into the lake to determine the depth by measuring the length of line between the weight and the ice. I can’t tell you how many holes I drilled in the ice, going from hole to hole looking for some sort of change in depth – a rock pile, creek channel, or any random depth change – because as we all know, that’s where the fish are.  

Once we found fish, or a sudden change, we would mark our spot with stick, by piling up snow.

Meet The Simplest Way To Track Your Ice Fishing Trips

The only other option was to mark the spot by identifying a shoreline feature we could use to find our location again. For several years, this little “bullet depth checker” was the most advanced piece of technology on the ice, not just for me, but for others, as well.

Ice Fishing Technology: The Evolution to Flashers

As I got a little older and more serious about ice fishing, I was introduced to “flashers”.  One of the most popular flashers ever invented was the Vexilar FL-8. The FL-8 was first introduced in the late 1980’s and completely revolutionized the world of ice fishing.

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Image Credit: Vexilar.com

For the first time, ice anglers could check the depth of the water and see fish in real time.

Shortly after, others followed suit producing variations of both flashers and fish finders. The flasher has remained relatively unchanged for the last twenty years and is still one of the most commonly used electronic devices on the ice.

Ice Fishing Technology: Marking Spots

Before GPS technology, serious ice anglers who were interested in marking their fishing spots would identify markers on shore such as a tree or a telephone pole. If you were lucky, you carried a secondary GPS, often times a handheld device, or if you were crazy enough, figured out how to rig a lawnmower or snowmobile battery to your boat’s fish finder and hauled that out onto the ice.

For a short period of time, I used a handheld GPS along with a Vexilar Fl-8, until I dropped my GPS down a hole.

Within the last few years, only a few fishing electronic companies have added GPS and mapping technology to ice fish finders, but these “extras” cost anywhere from $400 to well over $1,000+ for those features. This cost doesn’t even include the cost of (multiple) map cards.

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Also, the technology is often big and bulky due to the size of battery and isn’t ideal when you’re carrying all of your ice fishing supplies. The entry of ANGLR into the ice fishing market has changed the way we look at GPS and fish mapping technology in a huge way.

Ice Fishing Technology: Changing the Game

ANGLR has invented a device called the Bullseye which is about the size of a quarter and can easily attach to your baseball cap or onto a lanyard worn around your neck. At only $29, the device has a built in battery with a two year life span that doesn’t require charging. The Bullseye pairs to your smartphone via Bluetooth technology and free ANGLR app, and is available for both iPhone and Android, free.

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To set it up, simply launch the app from your phone and hit record, then pair the Bullseye in the app and begin tracking your every move. You can then access your tracking records from an in-app map, but the Bullseye doesn’t stop there. With one simple push of the button on top of the Bullseye, you can mark a fish catch which is instantly logged to the app. Press the button two times and your GPS location is recorded to the map as an editable waypoint. At the end of the day, you review your logs and save your trip for future reference – and this is just part of what ANGLR Bullesye can do.

If you don’t want to carry a second GPS along with your fish finder, or don’t want to spend 100’s of dollars on overpriced fishing technology, ANGLR is for you. ANGLR has taken the bulkiness, the cost, and complication out of fish mapping technology. In fact, we believe in this product so much that you’ll find every single one of our WPA Hardwater staff at our 2019 tournaments using it. We’ll also be teaching our ice anglers how to utilize their ANGLR Bullseye.

Interested in the Western PA Hardwater Tournament Series?

Follow us on Facebook for up-to-date information on the upcoming 2019 tournament series.

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Sturgeon Fishing Michigan: Where to Find and Catch These Iconic Fish Through the Ice

Three years ago, success when Sturgeon fishing Michigan seemed to be nothing more than luck – growing up in the Middle of Michigan, it was a rare creature that you’d hear of people catching once or maybe twice per year.  It wasn’t until I moved to Northern Michigan and explored some of our smaller lakes, that I realized there were plenty of opportunities to target these fish.

One of the most unique initiatives that I learned about when I moved was Michigan’s effort to stock Lake Sturgeon into some of our lakes and rivers.  This stocking is very unique to Michigan because they realize the value of sport fishing for sturgeon, but also the cultural importance of these fish, which are on the endangered species list.  There are a few lakes throughout the state of Michigan which are part of these stocking efforts, including Black, Burt and Mullet Lakes in Cheboygan County, and Otsego Lake in Gaylord.

Sturgeon Fishing MichiganMichigan Sturgeon Fishing Regulations

Sport fishing for these freshwater dinosaurs does come with some regulations. The state of Michigan requires anglers targeting Lake Sturgeon to have a special Lake Sturgeon permit.  Anglers are allowed to keep one fish per season, over 50 inches. This incentivizes anglers to practice catch and release, while still offering the chance at catching a fish of a lifetime.

Another very unique opportunity in Michigan to celebrate the Lake Sturgeon is a one-day spearing season on Black Lake.  On February 2, 2019, Black Lake will be hosting their annual Sturgeon spearing season. The unique aspect of this festival is that once the 6th Sturgeon is speared, the season closes.  In 2018, the season lasted a total of 66 minutes – the largest Sturgeon of the day weighing over 79 pounds!

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These efforts, from the Sturgeon stocking to fishing and spearing regulations are critical for the promotion of conservation of these amazing fish.

Where to Target When Lake Sturgeon Fishing Michigan

The most obvious place to start when looking at where to start fishing for Lake Sturgeon is to look at the Michigan stocking efforts – Burt and Mullet Lakes, Black Lake, as well as Otsego Lake offer great opportunities to target these fish.  These lakes are now regularly stocked with Sturgeon and have populations that can offer you a real shot at catching one of these dinosaurs.

Once you’re on the lake of your choice, I like to locate “Fish Highways.”  A “fish highway,” is a high percentage area that fish will use to travel around the lake – what I look for are steep breaks where shallow water drops quickly into the main lake or river channel.  These areas of the lake offer fish easy opportunities to move from shallow to deep water depending on water conditions, but also ambush points where they don’t have to move very far to find food/baitfish.  Identified on the map below are some areas that I target along major “fish highways.”

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Main Lake Points

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Shallow Water near River Inlets

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Steep Drops near Main Lake Flats

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Gear for Targeting Lake Sturgeon

Heavy rods, 10-pound test Monofilament line, and heavy gauge hooks are the standard in Lake Sturgeon fishing.  My preferred setup is to use a 40-inch Heavy – Moderate Fast Rod. There are a couple companies that build custom rods of this length and action, but for most purposes, any 36” to 42” Medium-Heavy or Heavy power rod will work.  You want something that has enough backbone where you can fight the fish effectively, but not so stiff that you end up pulling or bending out your hooks.

The hooks that I rely on for this technique are 1/0 Gamakatsu Circle Hooks.  A circle hook helps the fish set itself when it starts to swim away with your bait, so you don’t have to set the hook hard.  You also want to fish with a relatively light drag and play the fish – typically on a circle hook, the fish is pinned well and playing them on light drag will ensure you are able to get the fish through the ice.

As far as a reel goes, I prefer a 2000 or 2500 size reel.  This is the standard size reel from most manufacturers that most of us know and love.  I pull mine off of my open water spinning rods, put it on my ice rod with some 10-pound test monofilament line and am ready to go!  The monofilament is important in ice fishing because it won’t absorb water so it won’t freeze up like braid or become brittle like fluorocarbon in the cold weather.

Sturgeon Fishing Michigan: Using Bait to Trigger Strikes 

When jigging for Lake Sturgeon, the scent is important as it is in most ice fishing situations.  I prefer to chum the area with bait – dropping a few handfuls of smelt or dead minnows down the hole help to draw in fish to the area both through smell and feeding opportunities.  Lake Sturgeon, while thought of as bottom feeders are actually aggressive predators that feed on baitfish.

I then set up two rods with the 1/0 Circle hooks to a nose hooked live Blue Minnow.  I like to nose hook the Blue Minnow because it will still be relatively lively and have a more natural action up off the bottom of the lake, making it an easy target for the fish of a lifetime!

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Sturgeon Fishing Michigan: Practice Conservation

While Lake Sturgeon fishing can result in one of the coolest fish catches of your life, I encourage you to remember that these are special creatures.  Practicing conservation and following catch and release practices allows for these fish to be around for many years to come. I recommend bringing a tape measure and a good camera get records of your fish in the case you’d like to get a replica mount!  Unless you plan to harvest the fish for your freezer, I recommend releasing it for someone else to experience as well.

Be safe on the water, and I hope that this advice helps you land the fish of a lifetime!

ANGLR’s Ice Fishing Resource: Your Quick Start Guide to Ice Fishing

Adding yet another power-packed informative guide to their collection, the ANGLR Labs gurus have created the Ice Fishing Quick Start Guide just for you. It includes everything you need to get started ice fishing. Even if you’ve never drilled through before, you’ll leave here with just what you need to get started right!

The average angler has never ventured out on the ice before with a rod and reel. The idea itself is a bit mysterious. Perhaps you caught an old rerun of Grumpy Old Men and are inspired to give it a whirl while hurling insults and obscenities at your neighbor. No matter. We’ve at least got the fishing part of it covered for you!

Divided into six chapters, you’ll have an easy time learning the ropes and determining exactly what you need to get hooked into this sport!

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Ice Fishing Resource: Basics

Author Jordan Rodriguez introduces you to the sport with a few basics to get you going. Consider it a teaser section. He gives you just enough to keep you coming back for more. Safety comes first, always, so pay close attention for tips on how to determine ice safety.

Ice Fishing Resource: Gear List

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The section on how to get started, before you can actually get started. Without gear, you’re going nowhere in a hurry, but how do you know what will really come in handy on the ice, and what will actually be a hindrance?

Rodriguez takes you through the list of items you’ll want to be sure you’ve packed, which you absolutely need, and which you can live without. He’ll get you straight on the different types of ice augers, and clues you in on what types of sleds are available for toting your gear.

What you really want to hear about are the rods and reels. If you’re new to ice fishing, you may be wondering if what you already have at home could be reapportioned to ice fishing. You never know ‘till you check out this chapter! You even get the low-down on what sort of electronics you’ll need, as well as how to use the ANGLR App to your advantage on the ice.

Ice Fishing Resource: Planning Your Ice Fishing Trip

You’ve got the itch now, but where do you go to scratch it? Can you just head out to the first frozen body of water you see, or is there a trick to locating where those bad boys are? Is it a matter of plunking down a hole and sitting in stubborn concentration all day? Or is there more to it than that? No worries. After this section, you’ll be on top of your game and be armed with the knowledge of where to start, and how to work on from there.

Ice Fishing Resource: Tackle, Rigs, Lures, and Baits

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Here’s where things really start to get fun! Rodriguez lays it all on the line, giving you the best choices to grab for a day on the ice. Because your choices can be vast, you’ll get an idea of what brands and types work best for simple jigs, ice spoons, tube jigs, and swim jigs. You should also have an ample supply of baits packed and ready to go, too.

You’ll even get a tutorial on how to rig your line for the biggest impact.

Ice Fishing Resource: How to Land Your Fish

Landing fish – especially the big ones – can be tricky through the ice. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with tips for making sure that you’re able to have a pretty successful landing rate.

Ice Fishing Resource: Tips By Species

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What more could you ask for? Not only do we have what you need to get yourself started, but we’ve got even more! We break some really helpful information down by species for you, so you can walk out on the ice for your first time with confidence. Are you after bass? Looking for perch? Maybe you want to find some crappie, walleye, or trout. Perhaps you’re even hunting the great pike and muskie. There’s always a few more details to fill in for each species you’re after, and we’ve got just what you need.

We’re not looking to overload you with too much, but want to make sure your first few trips out on the ice are enjoyable, fun, and successful! By referring to this guide, you’ll be off on the right foot! Who knows? Maybe you’ll become a steadfast bucket butt, yourself!

Locating Bass Ice Fishing Lake Arthur With Gus Glasgow

The ice season can be some of the most exciting times to get out there and go after your fish of choice. Sometimes, you may even stumble across a school of fish you weren’t expecting to find. That’s what happened to ANGLR Expert, Gus Glasgow up on Lake Arthur in Western Pennsylvania a few years back. He was out targeting crappies and ran into a school of smallmouth bass ice fishing. The best part? they seem to have taken up residence in that spot, year after year.

Glasgow has been fishing since he was a little kid. His uncle was a passionate fishermen, and got him hooked on ice fishing. He took Glasgow out for the first time around the age of six, and he loved it. His mom wasn’t so keen on the idea since there wasn’t really any emphasis on safety back then.

“If you saw water squirting up, you just took a bigger step over the hole,” Glasgow shared.

The Premier Western PA Ice Fishing Destination

While Glasgow resides not too far from Presque Isle, Lake Erie, he favors the more popular Lake Arthur for ice fishing. “Presque Isle is so iffy on the ice, more people go to Lake Arthur.” It’s like the ultimate ice fishing destination spot for all of Western PA.

Anglers make the trek up from Pittsburgh, Ohio, and even West Virginia to get some ice time. It’s usually the first lake with ice, the lake with the most ice, and the lake with the safest ice.

“Due to the geological location and the surrounding hills, it’s the best and safest place to go,” You can’t beat that!

How To Find the Fish You’re Not Looking For

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He ice fishes almost exclusively for panfish these days but stumbled upon a little secret a few years back while going after crappie. “It’s a really rare thing to catch smallmouth bass ice fishing. The only reason I even came across them was because I happened upon a spot that apparently the bass wintered in.” He was on the upper end of Lake Arthur along one of the three main fingers where ice fishing is generally practiced: Muddy Creek, the Propagation Finger, and Shannon’s. That’s where the majority of anglers go after panfish, Muskie, and Pike.

Earlier in the season, you’re more likely to catch crappie in the shallower ends of the lake near brush piles, rock piles, and weed edges.. As the season goes on and more fish have been caught, their numbers start to dwindle and they head further out to deeper water. Glasgow thought he was following those crappie as they headed closer to the main body of water, looking at some brush piles and rock piles over open water near main lake points. He started finding groups of wintering smallmouth in about 10-12 feet of water in a brush pile near two rocks.

“It’s rare to catch smallmouth at Lake Arthur, period. It’s very rare to catch them through the ice, and extremely rare to have a spot that produces high numbers. It’s a real oddity, but they fight just as hard through the ice as they do through the summertime.”

Thinking this was just a fluke, he’s actually stumbled across another location on the same lake, finding similar groups of smallmouth. He’s able to catch them in these locations over and over again. Both locations are very similar in that they consist of a brush pile near rock structure over a hard bottom. “But it’s really only those two locations on Lake Arthur where I’ve found those conditions, but I can go out and consistently catch six to ten in a short period of time, which is an oddity when it comes to bass.”

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Smallmouth Bass Ice Fishing Gear

When he had happened upon the surprise bass, Glasgow had been using microplastics, Fiskas tungsten jigs tipped with a maggot, and a dead-stick minnow, all with 32” ice noodle rods with 2-3 pound Gamma fluorocarbon ice line, in his effort to chase panfish when he caught a surprise, instead.

“I caught them on a jig, and I wasn’t paying attention to my deadstick rod. I looked over, and it was sliding across the ice about to go down the hole,” he reminisced.

Smallmouth have a tremendous amount of fight when compared to largemouth bass.

“They fight extremely hard in the wintertime.” Once he noticed that he was consistently able to get into these bass ice fishing, he took a friend along. “I warned him, ‘do not leave your rod near the hole unattended because these smallmouth are nuts.’ He didn’t believe me. His rod took off within seconds and he lost it down the hole.” He jokes about the fish’s wintertime fight. “If they could jump, they would. A couple of times I’ve felt like they’ve probably jumped and smacked the ice.”

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Now that he knows he’s going to go for these smallmouth, Glasgow still uses the same rigging as he does for the panfish. Occasionally he’ll grab a Northland Forage Minnow spoon, though he’s still using his four and five-millimeter Fiskas jigs.

Ice Fishing Technology

This seasoned angler laments the lack of technology that affordably pairs fish-finding technology and tracking with GPS, making it difficult to readily track your catches, but he believes that the ANGLR Bullseye could easily bridge that gap in the future. Glasgow uses the Bullseye with the ANGLR App when ice fishing and likes the fact that you can easily share your catches, your story, and your map.

If you want to make your catches public, you can, but you can also keep all of your data completely private! You can share where you were, how you caught them. “Before you just had a pen and paper at home your wrote these things in like a diary,” he reminisces. “Most people don’t want to do that.”

Glasgow ponders on why he keeps finding the bass ice fishing where he does. “I think there’s an abundance of crawfish there, which they’re still feeding on in the wintertime. They’re also ambushing minnows when they have the option, so they’re relating near the brush, but the hard bottom is what keeps them there. He noticed that the second spot was almost exactly the same as the first. He happened upon it the same way, too. It was also an area he had historically had a lot of luck with crappie.

“They have almost the same structure; a rock shoreline with a lot of rock bottom with a brush pile on top of it. They just hang out in that brush pile on top of the rocks.”

So it seems it’s probably a good modus operandi to take a lesson from the Boy Scouts. Be Prepared. You never know what you’re going to run into and how much fun you’ll have on the ice!

Western PA Hardwater Series – Ice Fishing Tournaments for Everybody

Move over bass tournament series, there’s a new kid in town. 2019 will mark the third full season for the Western PA Hardwater series, and each year it gets bigger and better.

Organized by tournament angler and ANGLR Expert, Gus Glasgow, this one of a kind ice fishing tournament series looks forward to its biggest kickoff so far with five events planned.

Glasgow had previously fished in three ice fishing tournaments. One was a professional event in Michigan and two on Lake Arthur. Those two were organized by Billy Hines for the Slippery Rock University Bass Fishing team as an open fundraiser. Glasgow can’t remember there ever being an ice tournament anywhere on Lake Arthur prior to that. So why not create one?!


ICE FISHING QUICK START GUIDE


What is the Western PA Hardwater Series?

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Hosted by the Western PA Tournament Fishing Association, the Western PA Hardwater is a series of ice fishing tournaments held across western PA. It’s the region’s only competitive ice fishing events for both amateur and professional anglers.

While there are a variety of ice fishing tournaments across the United States, there are really only a couple of tournament series for ice fishing. Being the only ice fishing series in the state of Pennsylvania makes the WPA Hardwater pretty unique. There are one or two in New York, a few in Vermont, and The Elite North American Ice Fishing Circuit is all the way out in the midwest, traveling around through multiple states.

“Someday we hope to grow big enough that we could consider doing that on this side of the country,” Glasgow pondered.

The series offers a collection of five tournaments located on five different lakes, including one two-day event on Presque Isle.

January 5th – Lake Arthur (Butler)

January 19th – Kahle Lake (Emlenton)

February 2nd – Sayers Lake (Howard)

February 16th-17th – Presque Isle Bay (Erie)

March 2nd – Pymatuning Lake (Linesville)

The Sayers Lake location in Central Pennsylvania was added this year as a step towards expansion in the future.

“Last year’s series brought in an average of 30 to 40 teams,” began Glasgow. “This year, based on the impact we had last year, we expect to easily double that, if not triple it.” He explains why:

“We had some really successful events last year, so we were able to turn around and reinvest back into marketing and advertising to really promote the series and get the word out.”

In the past, the WPA Tournament Fishing Association had relied heavily on word-of-mouth.

Anyone that wants to fish is welcome. “Anyone that has a desire is able to ice fish. Anyone can go get a rod and reel. They’re not expensive, so anyone can do it and be successful,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of father-son teams, and a lot of husband-wife teams, and a couple of female partnered teams. We’ve even had mother and son teams.” Diversity like that is really not something that you see so often in many other forms of competitions.

What to Expect of an Ice Tournament?

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Glasgow describes the ice fishing tournaments as being unique from other tournaments, ice aside. “They’re a lot of fun and friendly. These guys actually share information.” The atmosphere tends to be more relaxed than typical bass tournaments. No one is trying to hide information. You can literally walk right up next to someone fishing and watch what they’re doing and ask them questions. They’ll tell you all about what they’ve tried, what’s working, and what’s not.

Sometimes some anglers will be a little protective of what they’re doing in their spots, but anyone else can walk up next to or near your hole, so there’s no way to hide anything.

“Everything you do is in plain view and in the open, so we know where the guys are that are winning. We know what they’re doing and where they’re fishing, and everyone can share that.”

Unlike bass tournaments, one of the rules that Glasgow intentionally left out was the “no cell phone” rule. “We allow them to share information, and we openly want them to,” he said.

Glasgow recalls the event on Kahle Lake during the series’ first year. “It was about two in the afternoon, and we were to weigh in at three. All of the sudden, out of the 40 competitors we had, I saw about 20 of them pick up all their gear and almost sprint to one area. I’ve never seen anything like it! It was comical,” he reminisced as he wondered where everyone was going.

Here, one of the anglers was having success in this particular area and told his buddy, who told another. “Suddenly everyone packed up and moved to that one spot.” They all wound up catching fish when the beans were spilled, after a day where the lake hadn’t been fishing well all day.

“You can still run into the same handful of guys that tend to do really well,” he began, “but we’ve had teams that have never fished in a tournament before win!”

Ice Fishing is for Everyone

The WPA Tournament Fishing Association really appreciates the help that they get from their sponsors. They have a collection of great sponsors already, and several more came on board this year, donating products and prizes. ANGLR Labs, the creators of the super-helpful fishing tracker app is one of this year’s featured sponsors.

Everyone has a chance to be a winner. “We have one big item for each event that we save as a drawing, not as a fish catch prize. We’ll draw one random name out of the contestants for that event.” That means that literally everyone that participates can have a chance to win something, regardless of how they fish.

The first event is set to kick off on January 5th on Lake Arthur. Registration begins at 5:00 am, with the event beginning at “faint light.”

Safety is a primary concern, so the schedule may be subject to change, depending on the ice conditions on the water. All fishermen are required to wear an awl at all times on the ice. They also must either have life jackets within reach at all times, or be wearing a float suit, such as those made by Striker. The suit consists of a jacket and bibs that float, as an extra safety precaution.

Can Spectators . . . Well . . . Spectate?

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They sure can! This series gets a surprising number of people that show up to watch the events, cheering on their favorite angler.

On top of that, every single fisherman stays behind to watch the rest of the event and cheer their friends on. Warm weather tournaments tend to lose a lot of the anglers that don’t do well early on. “A lot of times, they’ve already loaded up their boats and are headed home, even before the official weigh-in time. Usually the only guys that tend to stick around are the top contenders that think they may have won a prize,” Glasgow explains.

With ice fishing, everyone that fishes in the tournament stays to watch the weigh-in. A lot of aunts and uncles, friends, siblings,  and cousins come out to watch the weigh-in, too. “For a lot of these guys, this is their first official step into any kind of tournament.”

In a time of the year when most of the general population is hibernating, ice fishing is fascinating to the rest of the public. News and journalists and videographers can usually be seen at several of the events.

All of the details are located on their page, wpahardwater.com, and you can stay up-to-date  with news and events information on their Facebook page, Western PA Hardwater Tournament Series.

 

A Roundup of the Best Perch Ice Fishing Videos

It’s that time of year where you start brushing up on your winter ice fishing tactics. Pulling your augers out of the back of the garage and making sure they’re tuned up and ready to go. What better way to kick off the perch ice fishing season than to get yourself warmed up with some videos?

We’ve scoured the internet looking for the best perch ice fishing videos geared towards piquing your excitement, honing your skills, and making your jigging finger twitch.

Perch Ice Fishing Tips to Hone Your Skills

Jason Feldner takes you through how to use a dropper rig to land jumbo perch in Lindy Fishing Tackle’s Use a Dropper Rig to Catch More Perch. He shows you exactly how to set up and use this rig when the fish aren’t schooled up, but are on the move.

Ivo Coia, host of Thundermist Fishing Tips, gives some great advice on how to get set up for some great perch and shows you the perfect jigging spoon technique in Ice Fishing Jigging Tips and Tricks. They’ve got the Stingnose jigging spoons on the line today and catching a variety of sizes.

If you’re new to the game, Fish Ed host, Jon Thelen shows you exactly what to look for when picking the perfect perch post in The Perfect Winter Perch Spot. Thanks to Lindy Fishing Tackle, he brings in a few of the jumbo guys that everyone’s seeking.

If it’s really jumbo perch you’re after, you’ll want to watch Fish Ed 020 Ice Fishing Tricks to Catch Devils Lake Perch with Jason Feldner. Lindy Fishing Tackle does it again, showing you exactly where you want to get yourself set up and what sort of jigs and bait to use. He gives you tricks for how to catch more and bigger. Don’t miss this one!

Rick Larson takes you through My Perch Ice Fishing Bag of Tricks! To show you exactly what equipment he packs and what his presentation set up is.

Perch Ice Fishing Videos: Bait Tips

Coia is back again on Lake Erie for a trip out after perch and goes into good detail on baiting up with tiny jigging spoons and minnows. Then he shares some other baiting tips, including a surprisingly simple bait tip you don’t want to miss in Ice Fishing For Perch on Lake Erie With Jigging Spoons and Minnows.

In Secret Ice Fishing Perch Bait by Clam Outdoors, Jason Durham lets you know it’s not only okay to modify your bait, but when it comes to perch, it’ll get you better results. He shows you a few of his favorites that make him so successful.

Perch Ice Fishing Videos: Use Technology to Your Advantage


Follow along as Mike from Deeper Sonar traces the lay of the land until he happens upon the perfect spot to land some perch in How to Target Mid-Winter Perch Under Ice. You’ll spend less time looking for an ice fishing hole with sonar on your side.

Not quite sure how to use that Deeper Pro Plus? The Fishing Doctors Adventures takes you through just how to read your screen and use that signal to your advantage so you know exactly how to target those marks. You’ll get lots of practice reading the screen as they take you through How to Use Deeper Pro Plus Sonar for Ice Fishing Perch.


EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR ICE FISHING!


Perch Ice Fishing Videos: Straight Fun Catching Em’

In JUMBO Perch Ice Fishing!, ProFishermanJones gives out a few pointers here and there but shows a solid five minutes worth of hauling some nice keepers out one after the other. He clues you into his favorite spoon while hauling in some good jumbo perch on the Great Lakes.  

LiveActionVideo spends some time jigging for perch underwater. Well, not really, but their camera is! If you’ve got a day where you’re just feeling lazy and looking for some slow fun to mesmerize you, Ice Fishing – Perch. Underwater Camera is for you.  

Another underwater camera shows you different jig types and techniques in Fun Ice Fishing For Perch by Ricky Hembel. It’s a cool comparison of how the fish are reacting to each different rigging.

For a little get-up-and-go-get-em inspiration, Action Packed Perch Ice Fishing – Lake Simcoe really gets you into the mood. You’ll barely be able to wait ‘till the ice is thick enough to stand on. Thanks for getting the perch pumping, PFSC Fishing!

Curious about where you can and should use your SonarPhone? Check out SonarPhone Used For Ice Fishing? By Vexilar Marine.

 

Ice Fishing for Walleye – Early Ice to Late Ice Breakdown

Just because they’re harboring under layers of ice doesn’t necessarily mean that a fish has become inactive.

Walleye are a great example. Many people believe that they become lazy and inactive during the colder winter months.

That’s probably more of a product of lack of fishing success than actually based on the fish’s biology. A successful fishing season isn’t about luck. It’s about knowing exactly what the fish are doing, where, and why. And a good angler is constantly learning.

The winter walleye season can be broken into three sub-seasons: early-, mid-, and late-ice.

Ice Fishing For Walleye – Early-Ice Location

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These fish are transitioning through the fall when they’re set up in deep water close to major structural elements. There’s still a forage base present, and baitfish like whitefish and cisco haven’t quite finished their spawn yet. Walleye are located in areas with deep water access, close to these shallow waters.

When the first ice sets in, they’ve not yet had any reason to move from these areas, so you can still find them there. Focus your attempts on flats that have points and sharp drop-offs with rock and pea gravel, adjacent to the main lake deeper water.

Ice Fishing For Walleye – Mid-Ice Location

Walleye move out toward mid-lake humps as winter progresses. The deeper water is a little bit warmer, keeping them more active. Locate these humps by checking out the waterways contour lines to find those honey hole humps!

Ice Fishing For Walleye- Late-Ice Location

Depending on how far north you live, late ice can last all the way into April. An understanding of when Walleye start spawning will give you a clue as to where to find them during this time.

According to Scott Glorvigen, 2004 PWT Championship and 2000 FLW Championship winner, “The walleyes already have spawn in mind. They are already starting their seasonal movements to set up for spawning grounds.”

That makes this the key to locating walleyes in this phase.

You want to look for a connecting river, stream, or runoff; things that will be bringing in the warmest water. At this time of year, shoreline structure is your answer. Look for things like gravel shorelines, spawning sections where rivers and streams run in, or even better, pressure ridges, which create as much structure below the water as you see above the water. These areas can really hold baitfish at this time of year.

Locating Walleye When Ice Fishing

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These are all generalizations, of course. Ice fishing for walleye will always be different on each body of water you go to. Depths, water clarity, and oxygen levels vary from lake to lake. Habitat and population sizes also influence your success.

No matter the season, you can usually find walleye within a couple of feet from the bottom along structures mentioned before like points, breaks, rock piles, and humps. Structure meets a few basic needs like shelter and food source. They like fast access to deep water, so the steep breaks around points and bars are good places to look.

You can ice fish walleye at any hour of the day or night, but changing light conditions in the morning or evening usually trigger more activity and feeding. The most active times tend to be the hour and a half surrounding sunup and sundown.

Technology can really be your friend here. You can locate your fish using combo units with GPS and Depth Finders. Using a tracking system like ANGLR can help you map out your angling locations ahead of time and track your outings, including water depth and conditions, time of year and day, barometric readings, and much more. That gives you the ability to see patterns within your season, and help you make better decisions in planning ahead for next season.


EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR ICE FISHING


Ice Fishing For Walleye – Baits and Presentations

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Both jigging and a stationary approach can be used. You’ll want to set your lures to be about six to twelve inches off the bottom. If your water clarity is excellent or you’re graphing fish higher in the water column, you can set higher obviously.

Keep a variety of styles, sizes, and colors of jigs close at hand to choose from so you can experiment with what is working best.

Four main types of lures work well when ice fishing for walleyes: jigs, spoons, jigging rapalas, and lipless crankbaits.

  • Jigs: tip these with a minnow right behind the dorsal fin to keep them active and to draw the fish in.
  • Spoons: tip these with a pinched minnow head. These work by jerking the rod up a foot or two and then letting it drop back down to catch the fish’s curiosity.
  • Jigging Rapala: if the fish aren’t biting aggressively, you can tip it with a minnow head. By lifting and dropping the jigging rapala again, this jig will slowly circle its way back down to its resting position. This is a more aggressive approach.
  • Lipless Crankbait: these come in many colors and species and will quickly flutter back to its horizontal orientation quickly. This is the most aggressive approach.

If you’re allowed to fish with two lines, you can set up one line for jigging and the other as a dead stick. Set your dead stick with a bobber and live minnow on a hook or medium-sized jig. The idea is the jigging line will attract the fish. Some will hit that line, but if they’re in a neutral mood, they’ll probably go after the live minnow that has very little movement. However your walleye are feeling, you’ll have everything covered.

 

Crappie Ice Fishing

When the fishing goes crappie, it’s not necessarily a sad day.

Really.

We’re talking crappie, some of the most delicious panfish you can land.

Aside from following the in-crowd and picking yourself a spot among other local anglers, there can be a bit of an art to finding these little nuggets under the ice. Plenty of factors can come into play: the crappie population, the size of the lake, timing, and your knowledge of the types of places where crappie may be.

It’s a good thing we have Angler Expert, Jonathan Dietz, on our side. He’s been fishing for crappie for as long as he can remember.

“There’s just something about this fish that makes them fun to go after,” he says. “I especially like fishing for them in the ice. They’re just a very interactive fish. It’s cool to watch how they react to your bait on the fish finder.”

Dietz takes us through how you can locate and land these fun fish for yourself.

Locations to Ice Fish for Crappie 

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“On more shallow lakes with a lot of vegetation, there are aquatic organisms that live within that deeper vegetation, so the crappie will position more in the grass,” Dietz explained. That’s where their food is. They’re almost always two to three feet off of the bottom, depending upon the depth of the water you’re fishing in. “You can go fish in five feet of water, just drop it to the bottom, reel it up a foot, and you’re good to go.” You won’t have to move around as much to find them. “You might have 10 different holes you punch, but you’re only going to be rotating them.”

“If you have a deeper reservoir, those same fish would be out and suspend offshore more. So that’s going to make targeting them a lot harder without an electronic unit because they could be in so many more different water columns.” That means you’ll be fishing over a much larger area because the fish are constantly on the move chasing bait or other smaller aquatic organisms.

The type of lake you’re fishing on is really going to dictate what type of gear you need and how you’re going to fish for them.

“At the beginning of winter, the water has a relatively high dissolved oxygen ratio, so those fish can afford to be on the bottom in those deeper fisheries, where the warmer water is,” explained Dietz. As the winter progresses, the dissolved oxygen becomes less and less as the fish use it up and vegetation isn’t able to produce more, sometimes using it up, themselves. Such is the case when there’s a lot of snow blocking out the sun on top of the ice.

“As the winter goes on, those fish get shallower and shallower, since the oxygen depletes at the bottom first, so you’ll find them suspended in those columns. Late in winter, you could be fishing in 40 feet of water, and the fish may only be six feet below the ice.”

The open water schools of fish tend to travel more, too. That means you’ve got to be willing to punch a few holes at first until you find where they’ve gone.

Crappie Ice Fishing: Feel The Bite

Fish tend to feed a little bit earlier in the morning, and later in the evening, they tend to be moving around more and feeding. You’ll have fewer lull periods and you’ll consistently catch more fish.

Crappies feed upward for the most part, so you’ll want to drop your bait down and keep it right above their heads for the most part. Their eyes are on the top of their head and their mouths are positioned so that they swim up to their prey and suck it in from below. That means you really have to pay attention to your rod. It may be bent just a little bit from the weight of your bait and will straighten up slightly when the fish eats it since they’ll be pushing up from underneath, taking the weight off.

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Dietz describes what you’re looking for. “Those bites can often be really, really subtle, especially if you’re fishing outside of a hut in the wind. You’ll get what is called ‘an up-hit,” which is when they feed upwards and just take the slack out, take the pressure off of the line.” He recommends using a very sensitive rod.

Once one fish bites, the rest of the school generally gets fired up, so the faster you can get your jig back down again, the better. Fishing with a friend over the open water can increase your chances. As one is reeling in, the other can be dropping, keeping the fish’s attention.

Crappie Ice Fishing Equipment

Aside from the obvious auger, you’ll want to be sure you’re loaded up with the proper gear.

Fish finders are really an awesome tool when it comes to crappies out on the open water because they like to suspend. Dietz explains, “They really work well when you’re out on those deeper water fisheries because if you’re fishing in, say, 30 feet of water, those fish can be anywhere from right on the bottom to 10 to five feet below the ice.” He uses a MarCum Showdown, which has a vertical screen.

Fishing in deeper water without one is still doable. Drop your bait all the way to the bottom, jig it for a couple of minutes, reel up five feet, jig it for another couple of minutes, and continue that routine all the way up to the surface until you start to figure out a pattern with those fish.

Having an underwater camera can be nice, sometimes, too, so you can see what fish are showing up on your sonar.

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“Your rod should be a really sensitive rod since you’ll be using very light jigs,” advises Dietz. You’ll be using those soft, presentation-style baits for the most part. Look to use anything from a 28” rod up to a 36” rod with a really soft tip so you can lift that bait up and see that tip move a little bit.

A softer rod will also cushion things when the fish are kicking back and forth a bit, since they have really soft mouths.

Most people use small tungsten or lead jig heads, down to around 1/32 or 1/64 ounce baits. Dietz advises using tungsten, because it’s much heavier than lead, so it gives you good weight, while still being able to maintain the smaller profile.

Most people tip their jigs with either minnows, maggots, or wax-worms. Dietz prefers wax worms or minnows, depending upon where you’re doing your fishing. Most crappies eat small macro-invertebrates, especially in the shallower waters within the grass. Those open-water  fish are cruising around more, and will eat more of the bait fish like minnows.

Sometimes soft plastics can come in handy. “Trigger-X makes some of my favorite soft plastic baits. Their Mustache Worm is phenomenal.” They can be advantageous in helping you not go through so much bait, and you don’t have to fidget with them when the fish are striking. They can give you many different options for size, color, weight, and profile.

“If you’re going to a fishery to specifically target bigger crappies, you’ll want to use small spoons or smaller lipless baits, even though they’re commonly thought of as bigger species baits,” he shared. They’ll get you less bites, but you’ll hook onto higher quality fish, eliminating the smaller fish because it’s a bigger profile meal.

Dietz isn’t as picky about the reels he uses when going after crappies. “Almost any reel will do, depending on how serious you want to be. If you’re going to get really serious, they make smaller fly-style reels, which will eliminate any spin that the bait will have.”

Dietz utilizes the wide variety and selection that FishUSA has to offer on all ice fishing gear. Their online shop is unmatched in this type of gear, which is why it’s his go to when he’s looking for more ice fishing gear.


GET STARTED ICE FISHING NOW!


Advice For Crappie Ice Fishing

Dietz shared one last word of wisdom. “ When you to go a fishery you don’t really know and you see an older guy sitting on the ice somewhere, he’s probably been fishing there a long time. He’s the guy you should be asking questions. I’ve never been afraid to walk up and ask questions.”

Take advantage of ice fishing forums, too! There’s a wealth of information out there!