Doesn’t always work today.
by Bret “T-Bone” Amundson
There are few experiences that are hard to put into words. But here goes.
I recently took a trip to northern Minnesota for a little R&R and some ice fishing. I’m going to talk a bit about the fishing in this blog, but I’m saving the best part of the trip for the spring issue of the Minnesota Sporting Journal. (Shameless plug: SUBSCRIBE TODAY!)
There were no wheelhouses, vehicle access or lodging nearby during this trip. Fishing these lakes were going to require warm weather gear, snowmobiles and creative bait packing.
After a successful venture to Devils Lake, I thought I had it all figured out. I’d purchased a number of similar lures that had worked well, in various sizes and colors. I encouraged other members of the group to do the same. The lure had a number of attractants to it; it rattled and glowed. Once you tipped with a minnow head, it became a deadly combination.
The idea on Devils Lake was to bring the fish in, like you would with mallards. The rattle acting as a “call” and the glow being the “decoys”.
Whatever the difference was on this trip, the lures didn’t seem to work as well. Of course, I should know that; you have to fish the lake, as well as the species. After watching numerous fish on the flasher show little interest, I became an expert on tying on different lures, trying to find the right presentation.
Rattling jigs, shiny spoons, various plastics, pan fish jigs, and plain hooks were all employed. Full minnows, just the heads, hooked through the lips, back, tail and head all disappeared down the 8” hole without much success.
Finally one member of our group set the hook and pulled a smallmouth through the ice! We’d pull a half dozen smalleys over 17 inches out of the frigid waters once we realized what was wrong with our approach.
A few fish would succumb to the temptress minnows we were using, but once someone whipped out a secret stash of wax worms, the game was on.
Walleyes started biting, jumbo perch, northerns and a few more smallmouth bass as well. We had caught our dinner in a remote, picturesque setting and had a blast doing it.
When the fishing is slow, don’t be afraid to move around to find active fish, or if you’re limited a bit in mobility like we were, change up the presentation to see what might work. What gets the fish all worked up on one lake may not be the same on another. Don’t forget to bring more than one kind of bait along and try them both. If that works, bring me with next time!