Final Probability for Large, Skinny Ice Walleyes
February 02, 2023
The place I fish in northeastern South Dakota, late-ice runs from about mid-February till you’ll be able to now not safely get out. By this time, the chunk normally has been robust for a while and most people are a little bit burned out. As the times get longer, ideas flip to open-water fishing, reorganizing deal with, and attending Sport Reveals.
If you happen to’re desirous about icing some huge ice walleyes, although, now’s the time to get after it. Your odds of catching heavy-weight females are higher now than at nearly another time of the 12 months. Their location is predictable and they are often comparatively straightforward to hook, when you use the proper strategies. Massive livebaits suspended beneath a tip-up have been crucial to my success.
The situation of prespawn fish has been constant for me from 12 months to 12 months, the fish naturally transferring towards their spawning grounds, the one variable being precisely once they start to reach. They transfer into the basin space close to spawning websites sooner than most anglers suppose, nicely earlier than the fish transfer onto spawning flats. That is why fishing turns into so inconsistent at late-ice on conventional traditional construction spots that appeal to fish at first-ice all through a lot of the winter. Mom Nature journeys a organic set off and the massive women start lounging out within the basin close to spawning websites, awaiting ice-out.
For essentially the most half, these fish are in a impartial foraging state. At this stage of their lives, they’re masters at expending the least quantity of vitality for the very best return in protein, preferring to slurp down a big meal versus chasing quite a few small ones, so you will not discover them hanging out with smaller males which can be slashing at nearly something that strikes. They keep away from the competitors and feed solely when situations are optimum for fulfillment.
That is why massive baits work so nicely — notably, huge chubs. If you could find one, a 6- to 8-inch creek chub or redtail chub is finest; even 10 inches is not too huge. Sucker chubs are most available and work effective, too, more often than not.
I’ve additionally had good outcomes utilizing huge shiners in areas with decaying weeds that maintain juvenile sunfish, crappies and bluegills. The fish have a digital buffet line arrange on the weededge and you’ll practically set your watch by their nightly arrival.
Step one is to establish an space the place the fish historically spawn. A few of my finest spots are south-facing gravel or sand shorelines with a feeder creek. These areas heat shortly, and any inflow of contemporary water from the feeder stirs the pot.
I predrill holes lengthy earlier than both daybreak or nightfall, though I desire fishing the sundown chunk, because the motion is extra pronounced and appears to last more than at dawn. Begin drilling within the nearest deep water and work your strategy to the shallowest drop-off or weedline. Place your main focus of holes on the shallow breakline, however have open holes at every of the assorted depths. This lets you jig progressively shallower because the night wears on and the fish transfer in, when you watch your tip-ups.
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Fish with a few buddies or deliver some youngsters alongside, with the intention to place as many traces as potential. Run the tip-ups from deep to shallow, with the very best quantity on the shallow finish as you await the inevitable bites. I like HT’s pop-up model and I rig them with 50-pound Berkley Gorilla Braid for foremost line and tie to a small snap swivel. To this I connect a 4- to 6-foot chief of 10-pound mono or fluorocarbon.
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Reverse rigging works finest alongside the dorsal fin with Gamakatsu’s Walleye Extensive Hole hook in #2 to 1/0, relying on chub measurement. This permits for sufficient hole whereas utilizing massive baits to make sure hookups. Connect enough weight 12 to 18 inches above the hook to permit good bait motion with out letting the bait turn out to be too energetic. Run baits 6 inches to three ft off backside. At instances you may see particular choice as to the place walleyes need the baits set.
Do not forget that we’re utilizing sizeable choices and that fish want a while to get these baits down. Normally a fish grabs the chub from the aspect and runs a brief distance. After stopping, it repositions the bait with the intention to take it head first. This course of can take a number of minutes. The road begins transferring once more, normally at a faster tempo, as soon as the fish has eaten the bait.
I set the hook by grabbing the road and stopping the fish’s progress. Maintain agency — if you really feel the headshake, you’ve got obtained her. If she desires to run, let her go underneath fixed pressure and start choosing up line with a give and take till she tires. When you get to your chief, the fish is instantly underneath you. Line her up and pull her up the outlet till you’ll be able to both get a gill or seize her head and slide her on the ice. No gaff is ever wanted and these fish might be confidently launched.
Jigging performs a task together with tip-up units. I begin deep earlier than sunset and by darkish find yourself within the shallowest holes, shifting shortly from gap to gap as wanted, pulling my Fish Lure together with me. The bites on tip-ups function indicators of fish development to the shallows. I transfer accordingly, to remain in touch with the fish.
These fish usually are impartial to unfavourable, so alter jigging strategies and lures with this in thoughts. I take advantage of massive profile swimming lures reminiscent of a Salmo Chubby Darter or Nils Grasp Jigging Shad, or my private favourite, JB Lures Spanker. I tip the stomach hook with a minnow head.
One other tip is to take away the stomach hook and substitute it with a 4-inch dropper connected to a large-gap 1/16- or 1/32-ounce jig with a giant fathead minnow. Use a lift-drop routine for attraction and let the lure relaxation for lengthy durations. This setup additionally works beneath a slipbobber, leaving the rod set as a useless rod. The profile of the swimming jig brings them in, and the struggling livebait seals the deal.
Typically a jig just like the Bait Rigs Oddball tipped with a minnow is efficient. Reverse-rig the minnow on the jig. Then use a delicate lift-drop-hold movement, as you think about appear and feel for merging traces in your sonar display screen.
Do not be shocked or involved if jigging is not that productive. It isn’t unusual to take a number of good fish in a night, with the tip-ups accounting for all of them. Once more, these fish aren’t aggressive and customarily do not expend quite a lot of effort to take a lure. The truth is, aggressive lures and strategies at instances flip off fish.
Be secure on the market because the season wears on and also you proceed to place this method to make use of. I feel you may be pleasantly shocked.