Ice fishing tip: Stuck in one spot? Call the fish to you!
When hitting the ice, everyone tries to find good transition areas or other fishy locations, but sometimes when renting a permanent shelter or using a wheelhouse, we give up the flexibility to move. Lots of snow on the ice has limited access and movement this winter, too. Resorts plow out roads to particular structure, and then work to reach fish staging areas and passage corridors. If you’ve ended up in a less-than-desirable spot that isn’t producing much, but moving isn’t an option, consider calling the fish to you. How?
Fishing lure companies invented rattle baits for exactly this scenario. I almost always have one rod rigged with a large rattle bait like a Rapala Rippin Rap. If I haven’t marked anything for a while, I’ll drop it to the bottom and give it a couple hard rips, then dial it back to a more subtle jigging stroke – but still hard enough to make some noise. If after a few minutes nothing appears, I’ll give it a few more hard rips.
Rattle baits are ideal for calling in fish from afar, especially in dark or stained water. In clear water situations, try large flashy, fluttering spoons.
Calling fish in is step one, now let’s get some strikes. When a fish approaches, I’ll give the bait a soft but continuous bounce by slowly raising it away from the fish. (I’m watching this via my electronics). If after a couple attempts I still can’t get the fish to bite I will change it up and drop a smaller spoon tipped with a minnow head. Keep a set line in a nearby hole with a live minnow as another, less-aggressive option for the fish.
When fishing with multiple anglers, try a variety of baits and minnow types to see what works. I like to start off big and flashy, then downsize if the fish won’t hit.
Don’t give up too soon. Not marking fish? That’s the time to jig aggressively to attract fish. When they arrive, dial in your presentation and turn those fish into biters.
Good luck fishing and stay safe!