Target Walleye has talked alot about using Rapala Jigging Raps for open-water ‘eyes, but they also make killer hardwater baits. Of course there’s more than one way to fish ’em, but here’s Tony Roach’s take:
His go-to bait summer and winter…but downsizes to a #5 on ice.
Fishes it really aggressive (as fast as he can!) to get fish interested. Darts off to the sides of the hole and covers a much larger area.
Slows the bait down as soon as soon as he graphs a fish, but still keeps the bait aggressive and moving.
Doesn’t tip it with a minnow head…says it screws up the action.
Likes 6-lb mono since it doesn’t hold moisture and freeze up like braid.
More info in this Wired2Fish video where Tony is putting ’em to work on “The Big Pond.” #Money
On clear-water or high-sun days, Tony likes using colors like yellow perch or blue chrome.
In stained water or low-light conditions he uses brighter colors.
The Inside Scoop, some fish-catching info for you GATOR-CHASERS:
Large bays are good early-ice options because they tend to freeze first — well before main lake areas — and offer the safest early ice, often just a short walk from shore.
Avoid small weedbeds or areas of sparse cover at first ice. Prominent weedbeds at the mouths of bays, or in the deeper centers of bays, provide big pike with plenty of habitat and room to feed and roam.
If you’ve fished open water there…and remember which areas offered the best weed growth, make those your starting points…. If the weeds are still healthy, pike are likely still using them under the ice.
If you’re unfamiliar with the lake, note large underwater structures on your map offering broad areas, perhaps 6-18′, bordered by deeper water. Chances are these will have the most weed growth — typically broadleaf cabbage or coontail. More weeds typically equals more pike.
Focus along or slightly inside the deep edges of weedbeds, and dangle a dead sucker, cisco, goldeye or other large baitfish below a tip-up, using a wire or fluorocarbon leader rig to prevent bite-offs.
Some anglers question the use of dead bait for large pike, assuming that lively minnows would be better. The fact is, large pike are as much scavengers as they are predators, and regularly pick up and eat freshly-killed baitfish off the bottom.
10-12″ dead sucker, cisco, alewife, shad, goldeye or other oily baitfish…you can obtain these baits in advance, keep them in your freezer, and pack up a sufficient amount for your next trip….
Hitting that magical window where crappies and zooplankton collide can produce some seriously impressive results. It’s all about finessing your way onto their dinner plate, on their schedule. Full tip on Full tip on TargetWalleye.com, few excerpts:
> Deepwater crappies can often be found following the vertical migration of zooplankton. Typically we think of the ‘magic hour’ as being sunrise or sunset, but that sunrise can be as much as an hour later under the ice (and sunset an hour earlier) thanks to the lack of light penetration.
> Increased light levels in the morning trigger zooplankton to vacate areas higher in the water column and slide back towards bottom. It’s a similar situation towards evening.
> Maybe you’ve noticed the bottom ‘lighting up’ on your flasher near dusk? Zooplankton will begin to rise off bottom as the light levels drop, and they feed on microscopic plant-like organisms called phytoplankton.
> Mud basins in the 22-34′ range are where the magic happens.
> Aside from fishing super-clear or heavily-pressured lakes, this is another time I feel fluorocarbon plays a big role. Not only does Sufix Invisiline Fluoro actually sink, but it drops 4x more quickly than mono.
> For me it’s not so much about the bait’s drop speed as it is to help keep the line tight using light jigs in deep water.
Basic colors such as straight glow, white and occasionally black work great as zooplankton are virtually translucent. Working the lure fairly aggressively will help to call fish in, but use subtle — almost quivering — jigging movements to seal the deal.
Of course, if those deep fish are aggressive and “flying up” to intercept your baits, you can throw on a 4-5mm tungsten jig or a jigging spoon instead and light ’em up FAST.