Multi-species pro ice-fishing tricks for winter 2014-15
My line of work has its benefits. One is fishing with the top pros in the industry. Imagine a golfer getting a round with Tiger Woods. Or a race fan getting a seat next to Jeff Gordon while he competes at the Daytona 500. I’ve been fortunate to sit in a boat or an ice house with guys like Gary Roach, Dave Genz, Tom Zenanko, Chris Kuduk, and Tom Neustrom, all Freshwater Fishing
Hall of Famers. The lessons learned from these geniuses will result in more fish caught.
It was a winter when you could drive a vehicle almost anywhere on Lake Winnibigoshish. This should have spread the perch anglers out, but it didn’t. Portables were next to stationary shelters huddled in bunches atop of some productive structure. Word was spreading that the bite was slowing down, likely a result of changing weather and water temperatures.
Tom Neustrom scoffed at that notion and took us where there wasn’t another soul in sight. the perch fishing was incredible. This legendary guide says the majority of anglers just won’t search for their own fish. Instead they find the crowd and join it. Using Neustrom’s logic I have successfully searched out my own spots and caught fish when no others could get bites. It requires some extra effort, but the rewards are huge.
Chris Kuduk’s trick is triggering bites, which can be difficult when limited to an 8-inch hole. He generates bites by increasing the profile of the lure he uses. He does this by adding more bait to the hooks. He might increase the size of the spoon. He’ll switch to a crankbait-style lure like a Psycho Shad or even add some weight to an open water crankbait so he can vertical jig it. When the bite is tough instead of adding finesse to his presentation he gets aggressive and it works by triggering bites.
Tom Zenanko has tremendous knowledge of sonar. On an outing to Devils Lake we drilled a bunch of holes and he showed me how cone angles are nowhere near the illustrations in the manuals. He calls this Actual vs. Specified Cone Angle, and there is a good explanation of how this affects your fishing on the Vexilar website. What really opened my eyes was realizing that when we see a fish move into the cone, it looks like they are coming off the bottom and moving to the lure from deeper water. In reality the fish is moving from the outside of the cone to the center. He also taught me to never ignore a suspended mark. Sonars don’t lie.
Dave Genz, of course, is the supreme commander of the mobile ice-angling crowd and on the dozens of times I have been on the ice with Genz he has never let me down. He searches hard and finds aggressive fish, and by studying his program anyone can achieve success. Fortunately, this man has shared his knowledge with the masses.
Gary Roach taught me that when you are ice fishing, never rule out making a major change in the program if Plan A isn’t working. For example, on a crappie fishing trip on his home lake he was landing slab crappies from 25 feet of water. When we got there two days later, the fish were gone. We tried some other deep holes. Nothing. While the other ice anglers decided to sit on the hole and wait for fish to come to them, Roach started drilling towards shallower water and eventually found the crappies in just six feet of water in a big bed of bulrushes. Theoretically they should not have been there, but they were.
These men became Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame inductees for good reason. By tapping into their experience, you can’t help but become a better angler.