Ice fishing tip: Using spoons to catch more late-season panfish
Days are getting longer and warmer temps are on the way, which makes it easier to get out on the ice and spend some time chasing late ice panfish. This time of year you can find panfish hanging around the remaining weed beds. Locate some nice standing cabbage weeds, and panfish should be nearby.
There are a few different presentations you can use for targeting panfish. Jigs tipped with worms or plastics are some of the most common, but I like to use small spoons tipped with maggots or plastics. By using a larger presentation you can get down to the fish faster and usually attract more fish from further away than via smaller presentations.
One of my favorite spoons for targeting panfish would be the VMC Rocker Spoon with the chain dropper and a single hook tipped with a couple maggots. The flash of these spoons really calls in fish yet it offers a small hook easy enough for panfish to suck in your bait. Just drop down and jig aggressively to attract fish, then slow it down to a light jigging stroke to allow the fish to eat the bait.
I also like to use small fluttering spoons like the small VMC Tingler Spoons especially when targeting perch and crappies. The slower fall rate and fluttering action tends to call in less aggressive fish yet still allows them to hit it. You can tip the hook with plastics, worms, a small minnow head or minnow tail. Drop down just above the weeds and do about a one-foot lift and fall of the lure to allow the lure to flutter and flash. This calls fish in, then slow it down once fish approach thus giving them a chance to strike your offering.
The extra flash spoons create really can increase your catch rate by calling in more fish. There are times when fish come in but won’t commit to biting on the spoon. For that reason I usually have a second rod rigged up with a smaller presentation available. Just crank up and drop down a smaller presentation such as a jig and plastic or jig and live bait and seal the deal!
Good luck fishing and stay safe!