January 12, 2021
By Game and Fish Staff
Ice anglers all over the upper Midwest have already taken to the ice in pursuit of an awesome early ice bite. Here are tips from Freshwater Hall of Fame Angler and guide Dale Stroschein to help you catch more fish this season. (Courtesy of Frabill)
Stroschein never takes ice conditions for granted, with over 37 years as a guide. "Just because you see someone way out on the ice doesn't mean it's OK to venture out there yourself," he said.
The ice conditions will vary from spot to spot, and not everyone has the same sense of security on the ice as others. Stroschein never steps onto the ice without a good set of ice picks (which are included on every Frabill Ice Suit) around his neck. He also recommends you carry a rope and keep your cell phone in a plastic bag just in case you are unfortunate enough to test out your float suits capabilities. "You can never be over-prepared when venturing onto the ice, especially early ice," he said.
It is crucial to be able to get up and move at any moment. A flip-over shelter is perfect for the run-and-gun angler looking to cover ice fast and efficiently. As the weather and light conditions change, anglers need to make fast adjustments as the bite window may be short-lived. Being able to stash your rods away quickly and secure (such as in Frabill's XL Ice Combo Case) while stored (Ice Hunter Series Flip-Over Shelter) will help you stay organized and on the move.
3. Rod and Line
Many anglers tend to use too heavy of gear for targeting panfish and too light of gear for targeting tanker walleyes. Matching your rod and line to the technique of fishing and species will significantly improve your odds. When fishing for panfish in deep water, using a heavy or even a medium-heavy rod with a monofilament line will greatly reduce the number of bites you may feel. While using a light or ultralight rod (Ice Hunter Finesse Spinning combo) and a small diameter super line with a fluorocarbon leader, you are sure to feel almost every bite no matter how light. "Having the right equipment is key but knowing when to use it is even more important,” Stroschein said.
Paying attention to the details will help you land the big fish this ice season. With over 37 years of experience chasing big walleyes, Stroschein has learned a thing or two about increasing the odds of a true trophy walleye through the ice. "I’m a firm believer that our graphs put out noise as they ping the bottom for obstructions such as fish or structure," he said. "This slight noise may be all it takes to keep a big walleye from visiting your location. Technology has given us an entirely new view of what's under the ice these days, but it's not always the key to putting more fish on ice. Try fishing without a graph on occasion and see what bites your line; you may be surprised."
5. Playing the Odds
Typically, anglers will start in shallow water in the morning and move deeper throughout the day. This is a reliable method but can have its disadvantages as well. When every ice angler in the area is drilling holes up shallow where the fish have already staged, the odds of spooking them to deeper water is increased. And vice versa, as the day extends and anglers are chasing the fish to deeper water they may also be moving them back to shallow water where there is less pressure.
”A key to this thought is to stay stealthy, don't move when they move. Stay a step ahead of them and be patient as they will come to you," Stroschein said. "Be strategic when picking your locations and plan for the entire day of fishing. I may start my day in 10'-15' foot of water in the morning, but I like to have deeper water (30') close by. I'm staying mobile, but it will only take me a few minutes to get back to my other spots for when the conditions are right.”
From Source Outdoor Group