If you have been reading my blog for a while, you have probably heard me talk about big baits for big fish. I particularly return to that theme in the fall, one of the best times of year to catch big fish, big fish of a variety of species.
Now, it is all relative. Yes, I tend to fish smaller baits through a hole in the ice–smaller than I do in open water. However, the last few ice seasons I have been fishing larger baits more often. The results have been pleasing.
This will give you an idea of what I am talking about:
That video refers specifically to walleyes through the ice. Ice walleyes are particularly challenging on Nebraska waters. Many of our best walleye waters have an abundance of cold-sensitive baitfish. Those baitfish stress, die, and provide easy-to-catch meals all winter long. That is one big reason I believe walleyes through the ice are so challenging on Nebraska reservoirs.
Maybe a larger, more aggressive presentation would change that?
As mentioned in the video, through the ice, we are quick to down-size and finesse when the bite gets tough. Maybe we should be “zigging” instead of “zagging”?
Over the past several winters, I have definitely come to believe that going larger and more aggressive may be more appropriate on many of our waters. If the water is ultra-clear and I am fishing during daylight, I will still go smaller and less aggressive if the bite gets tough. Otherwise, I am going big much more often and it has paid off.
Does it mean less bites overall? Yes, maybe, depending on the fishery and its potential. That is why many of you will be too afraid to try it–you are too afraid of sacrificing total bites for more chances at bigger fish. You are zoned-in on filling your bucket, catching your limit, instead of exploring the frontiers of what is possible. Again, I will say it. If you want to take your fishing to the next level, you gotta quit fishing for your limit and start fishing for what you can catch and release. If you are not worried about taking a limit home and cleaning them, you will fish longer, catch even more fish, and for sure catch bigger fish.
But, I would not do it if I were you–too risky.
The video specifically mentions walleye. Up-sizing works great for other predators through the ice as well; largemouth bass and northern pike in particular. Again it is all relative, but it works for bigger panfish too, especially crappies and yellow perch. You might even be surprised at the size of bluegills that slurp larger baits. (HINT: They didn’t get that big by eating tiny meals all the time).
There are times when all I can get is fish to come look at larger baits. Instead of getting in the trap of trying to tease them into biting, I give ’em a chance and then move on. Those “lookers” are small fish–not what I want. I keep moving. When you find the right fish, you will know.
They look like these. I did not waste a minute trying to finesse any of these: