Two of my most recent ice fishing trips have found me adjusting tactics so that fish could be caught. That’s one of the things I like about fishing.It’s usually not the same each and every day and, more often than not, a little change in presentation is required to come out on the winning end.
One trip was on a local lake for bluegills, where the water was stained and a larger bait was needed to get their attention.
Digging through my tackle box, I selected the largest “Hexi Fly” I could find. Described as “sonar friendly”, this bait is great for down-viewing with electronics, as the body is wide and flat. This feature is also great for up-viewing, as big bluegills would spot it, as it was being lowered, and hungrily rise up to meet it for lunch.
The large size worked three-fold. One – it was easy to see, two – it kept most of the small, pesky perch at bay, and three – it sank quick and got down to the fish in a hurry. Sometimes, if you fiddled around too much, the fish would leave before you could get back into them. I also used the brightest, easiest-to-see color I could find and that was a “Super-Glo” neon green “Tiger Beetle.” It was perfect for the darker water and evidently perfect for big bluegills.
Another trip was for big crappies and although our group was pecking away, catching one here and one there, it wasn’t until Blake Liend put it all together, with a winning combination, that we could all join in on the fun.
Slow learners? Maybe, but we watched him catch an entire limit before making the adjustment ourselves and when we did it was a whole lot easier catching fish.
Blake’s award-winning presentation was a Northland Tackle “Mud Bug” tipped with a “Slug Bug Buggy Tail”. Sounds simple enough but when you have dozens of potential fish-catching combinations at your immediate disposal, sometimes it takes a while to figure it out. Sometimes we never do.
Now, from past writings, you all know that the “Mud Bug” is Blake’s favorite “go to” panfish jig. That’s nothing new. It fishes heavy and sinks fast, for having a somewhat smaller profile. However, tipping it with the right type of plastic, during a fussy bite, is another thing and in this case it was the “Slug Bug”.
The “Slug Bug Buggy Tail” comes in two sizes, 1” and 1 ½”, and Blake was using the smaller. Designed by famed winter angler Brian Brosdahl, it has a soft, ribbed torso, creepin’ feet, and small, whippy, little tail. It truly does look like a bug of some sort.
Whatever the case, big crappies ate it up and I don’t think I can ever recall seeing that many big fish caught in such a short time. For colors, we were fishing stained water again so the brighter offerings fared better.
I should mention lake conditions in the North Country. Fishing two different bodies of water last weekend, I found ice to be about the same, being soft and quickly deteriorating. Although one of the lakes had some vehicle traffic, I strongly advise against it.
Be careful, have fun, and make it happen!