Most ice fishermen will agree shiners are the best offering for winter pickerel. This late in the season, however, many bait shops are getting low on bait or may not have any at all. There are also times when jigging will turn on otherwise slow-biting or uncooperative pickerel. With that in mind, here are five-artificial lures worth carrying on the late-winter pickerel ice.
While generally used for casting, the Kastmaster from Acme Tackle is handy and productive for jigging as well. The lure is designed and balanced to produce erratic action in deep water or shallow, and can be worked slow or fast with the same results, allowing anglers to adapt to prevailing conditions or try different tactics. The Kastmaster is machined of solid brass, and the gold-like finish resembles a shiner and other baitfish. The brass also retains its luster making it a good offering in clear as well as murky habitats.
Available in size 1/12-ounce for those smaller fish situations to 4-ounces for lunker pickerel there are Kastmasters available for every situation.
THE ORIGINAL PHOEBE
Another fine lure that can be very productive jigging late-winter pickerel is the original Phobe, also from Acme Tackle Company. The Phoebe is designed in the shape of a small baitfish but what makes it highly productive for jigging is its deep hydrodynamic curvature in the body. The curvature not only gives the lure plenty of action regardless of speed but creates a three-dimensional illusion pickerel find hard to resist. For fishermen looking for a metal lure resembling bait, this is a good one to go with.
The Phoebe comes in sizes 1/12-ounce to 1/2-ounce and has a bright brass finish for plenty of flash.
The Krocodile from Luhr-Jensen is well known among trout, steelhead, bass, and even saltwater anglers, but this offering is also productive when jigging for pickerel whether the fish are in shallow or deep water.
The Krocodile resemblances to a small baitfish but what makes it so versatile is it is available in a multitude of color patterns from brass and chrome to chrome/green prism and chrome/blue prism to chrome with various colored stripes or holographic scales. In a nutshell, there is a Krocodile available to resemble a wide range of natural forage, making it a good producer regardless of what pickerel are feeding on in a given body of water.
When jigged, the Krocodile’s deep bend on the tail end supplies a unique wobbling action on the up swing or when allowed to sink — action even the most finicky pickerel find hard to ignore. The red flipper tail on the rear also helps draw attention.
The Krocodile comes in a wide range of sizes. Those best for pickerel come with a swivel on the head end and a split ring on the tail end, making it easy to switch from treble to single hooks or hooks of desired size.
This offering comes from South Bend and closely resembles the Kastmaster with the same wedge-like design. With all said and done, both lures are not only similar in appearance but can be fished slow or fast in deep or shallow water with the same results. The fact that the Kast-A-Way is generally slightly less costly might be something else worth considering.
The Kast-A-Way is available in five sizes but we have had the best result for late winter pickerel on the 1/8-ounce and 1/4-ounce versions, especially those in chrome or gold. The Kast-A-Way comes with split rings on both ends and a treble hook, which can be easily changed to a single hook where and if required.
WILDEYE LIVE SHINER/WILDEYE SWIM SHAD
The WildEye Live series of soft lures are available from Storm Lures. There are several of them, but two of the best for winter pickerel are the Live Shiner and Swim Shad models. Both have a realistic soft body in natural color patterns, holographic eye and internal lead head that helps them sink or rise head headfirst. The soft tail is cut at an angle to enhance action. The Shiner version, equipped with a needlepoint hook extruding along the back as well as a belly treble hook, works well practically anywhere. The 2-inch 3/16-ounce is best for most situations but for larger pickerel there is a 3-inch 1/4-ounce size. The Shad version is available in a variety of colors and can be matched to the type of water environment being fish. It is available in sizes 2-inch, 1.8-ounce and 3-inch, 1/4-ounce. It is equipped with only a single hook along the back.