Ice anglers are innovative. They’re constantly refining technique, equipment and their understanding of fish behavior. Yet acquiring information through simple trial and error requires a massive amount of time. Advice from others who have put in the time to cultivate new angling ideas drastically reduces the time you need to dedicate toward developing innovative angling concepts and allows you to apply an already proven idea, technique or presentation. Avid ice anglers will sometimes give you their entire lifetime of advice, all you need to do is ask.
We sat down with a few of our Clam pros and asked for one simple tip that will help ice anglers from novice to expert catch more and bigger panfish.
Here’s what we learned…
“When searching basins for crappie, you are also going to encounter tullibee and whitefish over many deep water areas.”
“Watch the marks on the Vexilar. If they slash in and out and chase you down they are usually not crappies.”
Jason adds: Anglers get excited when they see targets on their sonar and rightfully so. But understanding the movements of the lights on your screen will positively influence your catch rate because you won’t be erroneously trying to catch a fish you actually don’t intend to catch.
“Think of your holes as channel buttons on your remote. If you don’t like what’s on, move holes, in essence, changing the channel. The more holes you drill, the more channels you get. Eventually you’re going to find something worth watching!”
Matt adds: You constantly hear today’s expert ice anglers preach the advantages of mobility on the ice. Actively searching for active schools of panfish by drilling hole after hole, searching with your Vexilar and probing the underwater environment with fast falling tungsten jigs is commonplace for panfish anglers. Today it’s never been easier to do so with products like Clam’s drill plate that bores holes quickly and because of the light weight, minimizes fatigue, allowing the angler to “change channels” all day long.
“Light line is key; 2-3lb test teamed up with a #12 Red Glow Drop Jig loaded with lively, colored maggots.”
Although Seibert’s quote is brief, the amount of information runs deep. First off, light line for panfish is imperative, especially when the activity level of the fish is neutral or negative. There are anglers who try to apply their open water panfish ideas to ice fishing and though they’ll catch a few fish, their success will be greatly impeded by not taking the simple step to downsize.
Seibert’s Drop jig suggestion is spot-on, since the tungsten composition fishes fast, falling quickly through the water column. This is very important when there are small schools of roaming fish and you only have a short window to capitalize on their presence. Seibert suggests the Red Glow color of the Drop Jig, one of his personal favorites. Utilizing the glow capabilities is not only effective during low-light periods, but any time of day since the underwater environment has limited ambient light since the sheet of ice and snow impedes sunlight penetration.
The final tidbit of Seibert’s tip mentions “…lively, colored maggots”. During the summer months, some anglers hyper-focus on ensuring their bait is fresh and lively. Yet through the ice we become content with using a smashed gob of worms. Having fresh bait is most important when the fish are less active, but less important when the fish are aggressive.
“Look to your spring bobber as not just a strike indicator, but as a tool for suppressing your jigging sequence.”
We all get excited when we’re catching slab crappies and monster bluegills. That excitement can sometimes translate into too much movement of your bait.
Matt adds: Keep in mind that panfish are used to preying upon organisms that are miniature and exhibit minute movements. A spring bobber can absorb a portion of your overzealous jigging.
However, realize that the weight of your jig or spoon influences the effectiveness of a spring bobber. A heavier jig will make the spring bobber “bounce” when you intend to stop jigging and the heaviest jigs will cause the spring bobber to lose all of its effectiveness and intent.