If you actually think tip-ups are only for ice fishing walleyes and pike—you’re dead bait wrong. I’ve been using this non finesse technique for panfish for years, and now it’s your turn! Today’s tip-ups are more than sensitive enough to produce crappies (and bluegills) when used as a stealthy search weapon.
In the dialogue of ice fishing panfish, the term “tip-up” doesn’t come to fruition much. The fact is that it’s almost impossible to verify fishing spots trying to watch a bobber while searching/probing other areas with a jig/spike/worm combo. And frankly, with the unattended line laws involved—there is more slack and distance in using a tip-up being used than a “dead stick” or a bobber line. It all started years ago when I began catching huge crappies on tip-ups when fishing for suspended walleyes using shiner minnows. Long story short, I’ve adapted my techniques and tackle toeffectively catch huge bluegills and crappies using tip-ups!
There’s no real secret other than thinking outside the box. It’s very similar to the not so new trend of using jigging Rapalas all summer long. Once I locate my fishing spot(s) of choice, and actually marked fish through the ice using my Vexilar, I will drill few holes in the area and begin to catch and verify the numbers and size of fish. I actively search for fish, moving from hole to hole. I typically only drill 5-8 holes to avoid spooking any fish—especially if the water is less than 20 ft deep.
The first thing I do is set a tip-up at the level the Vexilar located fish are hanging at. The tip-up is loaded with the usual braided black tip-up type line with a small snap swivel on it so I can quickly switch from pike/walleye over to panfish by simple attaching a different 6’ leader. For the panfish I prefer 3-4 lb. Berkley Trilene XL monofiliment. I like the monofilament to stretch when the fish “inhales” the bait. This lessens the odds of the bait being stripped or the fish feeling the tension due to the tip-up. Non-stretch line is not recommended for this application. On the fish end of the business is a number 8 octopus hook anchored with a small split shot about 7-8 inches from the hook (typically red during the day or glow when the light conditions are closer to the dark side) with a lively killer crappie minnow on it—hooked behind the dorsal fin by the way. I adjust the tip-up sensitivity a little on the light side to be safe. Pick a hole and let’r rip. Continue searching the other pre-drilled holes and keep a close eye on the tip-up.
Once the flags start flying, jump on the line and set the hook. If there is a hole where flags are flying, get that tip-up out of there and start jigging with the rod in hand and transplant the tip-up in another hole and continue the sequence. The tip-up is used as a search weapon only—remember that. Tip-up search, jig destroy!
And there you go, simple and sweet. Imagine this system with five of your friends! Lotsa Fish! Lotsa Fun!
Captain Josh Hagemeister, Minnesota Fishing Guide Service:
P.S. Camp Fish & Minnesota Fishing Guide Service will be hosting “Camp Ice Fishing Weekend” on January 12-14, 2018. 2 nights/2 days. Seminars, ice fishing, meals, lodging, socializing—the works at Bugbee Hive Resort on Lake Koronis in Central Minnesota. If interested in being a better ice angler and having a great time, give me a call right away, we are limiting the camp to 35 anglers!
(RSVP by Jan 7, 2018) Capt. Josh 320-291-0708 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.