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Cool Cats Gear


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Hey, can any of you ice cats veterans give me a list of gear for the event in March? I've never gone for cats through the ice and have no idea how to outfit. Specifically what line tackle etc... I'm looking forward to the outing! Thanks for the help...

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Well first off the COOL Cats will be a blast. Hats off to Dennis S he puts together a excellent event and fun will be had by all!!!! He also frys up a mean winter cat!!

Well I'm no expert at cats but I do live on this water and spend a great deal of time chaseing cats. Here is what I have found that works.

Rods and Reels. First you will want a medium rod and reel setup spooled with 6-8 lb test for a agressive bite if the cats are on. Next I favor a medium light rod reel combo spooled with 4 lb for nuetral to negative fish. I use alot of Thorne Bros rods and love them, but any rod with a sensitive tip will work. The cats can at times bite as light as a bluegill or crappie and by going to a more finesse set-up you will be able to ice alot more fish. I use 4lb line alot and feel comfortable with it but a rod with a good back-bone and a reel with a excellent drag system is a must. You may also want to bring a deadstick set-up with. I have iced alot of cats with cut-bait or small minnows when they really are in a negative feeding mood.

For lures I highly recomend getting some (Go-devils) in 1/8 oz and 16 oz. These spoons have been my best producers for cats over the last few years. I will second swedish pimples, buck-shots and weasels in numerous sizes and colors. Alot of spoons that are used for walleye fishing will typically take cats through the ice. But I will stress bring a variety of sizes and colors with, the cats will let you know what they want.

For bait bring along a mix of fatheads and crappie minnows for tipping your spoons. I also recomend a few shiners for cut-bait setups.

I'll be at the gathering and will answer and try to help out with any questions any newcomers to the sport will have.

Don't miss this one it will be a blast!!!!

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IceHawk has it pretty much coverd. And don't let him fool you...he's catman, he just doesn't know it. smile.gif

I will add however that I prefer a longer rod for cats. Cats have a unique powerful fight and a longer rod will help keep tension on the fish when fighting them. A really sensitive rod is also an advantage. Like IceHawk mentioned the bite can be very light and the more sensitive the rod the easier it will be to pick up those light biters. I had a few custom rods built by Midwest Rod and Reel that do a good job. One is a 32" medium with plenty of backbone and has a fast tip for setting the hook "like now". This rod has an 11" cork handle that gives you a little extra hold for fighting fish and the blank goes all the way through the handle for durability and sensitivity.

My other new cat rod is a MW R&R 28" medium light with a wood handle. This is my finesse rod for cats and is extremely sensitive. The wood transmits vibration much better than cork and I can pick up the lightest of bites.

I prefer Power Pro in 8/1 or 10/2 for most of my ice cattin' situations. What it lacks in cold weather performance it makes up in sensitivity and abrasion resistance. Its not too often that you will break this line on a fish.If I feel that the cats are being line shy I'll add a flourocarbon leader, although I rarely find that cats are line shy. Sometimes it just make a guy feel better.

My top performing cat jig is the Scenic Tackle Go devil in 1/8th oz size. I also carry the 1/16th oz for when they are preffering a smaller presentation.

I have also been having some success with JR's Flasher and Crusher. The Flasher looks like your standard jigging spoon but has two small willow leaves attaced to the sides. When you jig it, it looks like a little water creature trying to swim upward. Worked right, it looks like wounded easy prey.

I would also mention that I have noticed at times a horizontal bait can be the ticket. Smaller version of Nils Master Jigs and Jigging Raps work well with a minnow head on the middle hook.

Cats can also be finicky when it comes to bait.

I always try to bring a variety of bait along. I have seen days when they will not take anything but half a shiner and other days when half a crappie minnow will do the trick.

I have also experimented with and have had success with chicken liver, little bits of tulibee and have even caught them on frog legs.

With cats you have to experiment with a lot of different approaches. Whats cool is that when you find cats you usually find lots of cats so it doesn't take too long to figure out a pattern.

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Cat: don't believe Hawk, he is an expert out on the 'shoe, and any advise you get from him is worth listening to. As for me I have been hitting the chain for the past 7 or 8 yrs after crappies and cats. As of late my gear has changed quite drastically. I tend not to buy rods that are expensive, (3 kids) Usually if I find something decent for 10-20 at FF I will pick a couple up. I tend to go with a reel that has easy adjustment of the drag, but I also tend to back reel alot especially when I have my ultralight gear out. I tend to stay with 6 lb test on most of my spinning reels. I am trying a new pole this year to strictly target light bitters. As for jigs: I have caught them on everything from a baited plain hook to a jigging spoon. In the last year or so I have started using glow red spoons, originally from Gapens but now I have a wide range. Go devils, angel eyes, and some other stuff. But my first cat came on a green glow tear drop. Hawk covered the bait thatI tend to use but stink baits, liver and any other open water cat bait will work. As for Cool Cats it is a great time. I believe this is the 3rd yr running, the 1st year there was I believe 6 or so of us. Last year over 30 and this year should prove to be better.

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When I initially started fishing cats I was in the bay on 22 and set up in an area where cats had been thrown on the ice. The night that I got my first cat I was fishing w/ my crappie gear. UL w/ glow tear drops and crappie minnows. I was catching 10-12" crappies then got a nice fish on pulled it up 4lb 'eye that had to be returned because season had just closed. Then got a 2 lb eye. I sent the line down right after that 'eye w/ a new crappie minnow and the bobber just kept going down figured it was a crappie until I set the hook. After about 5 or so minutes I pulled in a 3lb cat after that I would get a couple crappies and then a cat. Ended up leaving the ice w/ a limit of cats from 2-4lbs and 10 crappies that were 10". Returned 5 eyes, about 10 or so crappies and a couple of cats. And this was all w/ 1 pole. For some reason the would only take the one line. Is the best multi species fishing I have had out there. Since I have moved over to the Meth hole as my main area and I almost always fish crappie minnows and fat heads. I tend to cut half way through the minnow and hook through the head for jigging but when I take the kids the go with the full minnows. Every time me and my now 5 yr old have been out he always out fishes me. He still tells the stories from last winter when we went out and he caught a 4lber. Get out there and try it you will have a blast especially if you hit them on a day when they are really active.

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The Meth Hole is a place around the 50ft hole on the lake that stays open year round. It has been rumored that it is because of methane, but I don't know if this is the true reason or not. The hole can range is size from a foot in diameter to 5 or 6 ft in diameter. Every year on my first trip out there I get out of the vehicle and find the hole first before I park and set up. From year to year it does move or at least it seems to. As for cats on the ice, it has been getting better in the past few years but the first couple of years it wasn't uncommon to see a dozen or more laying out on any lake in the chain, as well as other fish (perch, rock bass, even crappies).

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