Ice Fishing Lures, Rattle & Hum

  • Proof of Noise Attraction for Trophy Fish
  • Advice from a Biologist

For STO 01172017, Picture 1of2By Gord Pyzer

Sometimes, all it takes is a little desperation to discover an effective new fishing tactic.  An outing last winter with my Saskatchewan buddies Jeff and Jason Matity offers a case in point.  Expert ice anglers, the brothers paid me a visit in northwestern Ontario with their sights set squarely on catching trophy-sized crappies—a sportfish not found in their windswept home province.

Just a few days before the visit, I’d located a large school of 13- to 15-inch plate-shaped beauties, but left them undisturbed in the hope they’d still be there when Jeff and Jason arrived.  Fortunately, they were.  When we hopped off our snow machines, drilled through three feet of ice and snow and dropped our transducers down the holes, the sonar screens lit up like Christmas trees.  I remember excitedly saying, “This shouldn’t take long.”

Boy, was I wrong—the fish just wouldn’t bite, steadfastly snubbing our baits.  Now, what would you have done to fool those finicky fish?  I’m betting that, like us, you would have used ever smaller lures, presenting them ever more slowly.  But the crappies remained obstinate, frustrating us for more than an hour as we watched fish rise up, put their noses on our offerings as if to sniff them, then sink back down to the bottom.  That’s when the guys started experimenting with sound to trigger a bite.

Sound advice

For STO 01172017, Picture 2of2Jason dug deep into his tackle bag and pulled out a Fergie spoon that we intended to use the next day for walleye (above).  He removed the wire holding the brass and glass clacker, and tied the noisemaker to the end of his line.  Then he attached the same minuscule jig he’d been using without success to the rig’s split ring.  After dropping it down the hole, Jason shook the contraption briskly enough that he could feel the brass weight sliding up and down the wire, banging against the glass beads.  In short order, he was icing crappie after crappie after crappie (see the opening picture).

That’s right. The same fish that wouldn’t open their mouths for the smallest, most realistic bite-sized jig suddenly went berserk for the same bait dancing below six inches of thick visible wire, with a half-ounce chunk of brass banging against two red glass beads. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that sound can’t be an attractant. Need more proof?

After we had cleaned up on the crappies, we set out one snowy morning to locate big burbot.  Jeff and Jason may be the best ling anglers in the country, so I took them to a spot where I’d accidentally caught some of these fish in the past.  To catch winter burbot, the Matity brothers’ favorite technique is to use heavy 3/4- and one-ounce Reel Bait Flasher Jigs with the willow leaf blade dangling below the head.  They tip the jigs with thick butterfly fillets fashioned from fresh ciscoes, then hammer the lure so hard onto the bedrock bottom that you can hear it from 20 feet above on top of the ice.

Truth be told, we didn’t catch any burbot—too many big walleye annihilated the baits before they could trigger the beady-eyed burbot.

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