Late-season ice run

I had a lot of fun on the ice over the past week. I’ve spent the past 10 days ice-fishing, and have been enjoying the last run for the season.
It’s one of my favourite times of the year because the weather is so pleasant, the days are long, and the fishing is very good.
I have had a group of friends up from Minnesota and we’ve been taking advantage of all the awesome multi-species action Sunset Country has to offer. We caught walleyes, pike, whitefish, lake trout ,and crappies—both numbers of fish and some really big fish of all species.
This is prime time to be on the ice.
It’s no secret that when the snow melts and sunlight makes its way to deeper water, fish begin to move to predictable locations. Spring-spawning fish like pike, walleyes, and crappies move towards to spawning locations.
Cold water species like lake trout and whitefish, on the other hand, are beefing up on forage before they bust a move to deep water for the warmer summer months.
Among the group that came up fishing this past week were good friends Dan Lindner and Jeremy Smith, and we filmed a few segments for their TV show “Lindner’s Angling Edge.”
We followed the famous formula coined by Dan’s father and uncle, Ron and Al Lindner (Fish + Location + Presentation = Success), for all of the species we targeted and used it as the basis for our success.
We made a move from fishing walleyes on the traditional humps and main lake structures, and found them staging outside of spawning areas in much shallower water than they have been in all winter.
Not only did we score numbers of eating-size fish, we also caught a number of large fish up to eight pounds, like the two caught by regular fishing partner, Dean Howard, on Monday night.
Big walleyes are prime spawners so these locations put us in touch with more of them than we’ve seen all winter.
To select for larger fish, we used bigger baits and imparted more action into our jigging stroke to get their attention.
Pike spawn in shallow, weedy bays (the bigger, the better). We set up tip-up rigs just outside of these bays and popped a few giant fish—some of the biggest pike I’ve ever had my hands on.
The largest was between 43-45 inches long and the mid-20 pound range. It ate a large, dead cisco about a foot off the bottom in 15 feet of water and put up a big fight.
We filmed a TV segment for crappies that ended up being very successful, although the day started out tough.
We went to a favourite spot that I have not fished in weeks, but one that consistently coughs up a good bite. The fish, however, were not where we normally find them.
We used power augers to drill a lot of holes and eventually we found a large school of crappies a couple hundred yards away from where we normally find them. They were moving towards shallow bays, where they will spawn a few weeks after the ice goes out.
When we found them, they were aggressive and ate larger-than-normal artificial baits. We did not need to use any live bait at all.
We had success with lake trout and whitefish on predictable, large main lake structures where they were corralling baitfish and feeding heavily.
Points and humps with sharp drop-offs, where the fish could push bait up against rock walls, were the best spots.
Again, we used artificial baits like plastic tubes and jerkshads, lipless rattle baits, and flashy spoons, and totally skipped using any meat at all.
The fish wanted to eat, so we did not need to use bait.
Although we are running out of time on the ice, we likely have a few more days to get in on some of the best fishing action of the entire year.
Just be careful and don’t take any chances. I would not recommend truck travel on any waters anymore.
Fortunately, we have plenty of great waters in Sunset Country that are easily accessible to anglers walking out and, believe me, there are some great places where you can catch big numbers of fish.
If you feel like the ice is not safe, it probably isn’t so again, don’t take any chances.

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