There is a component of thriller in all varieties of angling, however ice fishing really has a mystique of its personal. After we exit and drill a gap within the ice we’re making a window into one other world, and there’s this large sense of getting pierced the veil. Down by that small gap at your ft, is a realm hidden in shadow, the place maybe there be monsters.

Whereas fishing by the ice for smaller quarries like bluegill and perch is worth it, there’s something magical about struggling towards a heavy weight on the tip of your line after which wanting all the way down to see a watch as giant as your individual staring again at you from the darkness. It’s nearly like ice fishing was meant for simply catching large fish. Many anglers head out onto the hardwater with large recreation intentions, and plenty of are left dissatisfied. Like the rest worthwhile, focusing on trophy fish by the ice takes lots of preparation, endurance, and, above all—utilizing the proper strategies.

Discover The Proper Water

One of many greatest causes that ice anglers don’t pull lots of actual monster fish by the ice is that they’re fishing within the improper locations. Now, I don’t simply imply they’re not setting their tip-ups or jigging in the proper spots, however usually they’re fishing within the completely improper physique of water. Simply because a lake, river, or reservoir has species like pike, lake trout, or muskie, which may all develop to gigantic sizes, doesn’t essentially imply that they achieve this within the water you’re fishing. Typically a spot simply doesn’t have the mandatory forage or habitat to permit these species to develop to true trophy sizes and to count on one is nearly a waste of time. So to search out the proper spots, you want to do a little analysis.

“For me, the important thing to success after I’m focusing on trophy fish is ensuring I’m on the proper lake,” Jay Siemens, host of the Canadian Angle, mentioned. “There’s large fish in small lakes, certain, however I typically goal bigger our bodies of water, after which I do lots of E-scouting. I’ll try some on-line fishing boards, try some message boards, or trophy sections a sure physique of water has. You possibly can even discover and speak to some fishing guides or deal with retailers round a spot and see what they need to say.”

One of many best instruments for locating water with trophy fish is the web. Simply Googling the title of a sure water physique may give you info on every thing from the species it holds, how large they get, the place they’re being caught, and even what bait and lures to make use of to catch them. Don’t select a spot as a result of it has some fifty-year-old, once-in-a-lifetime fish file, however fairly one which produces trophy-sized fish constantly.

Use the Proper Gear

Everytime you’re fishing bait or lures for actually large fish, having the proper fishing gear is totally important. You’ll need to use medium to heavy-action jigging rods paired with a big body reel that has a stable drag. String the reel with 20- to 50-pound braided line that received’t be simply frayed on the ice across the fringe of a gap by a large struggling fish. Tip-ups ought to have an adjustable drag setting on the spool in order that large-live baits struggling towards the hook received’t by chance set them off, supplying you with false hope and operating you ragged on a day whenever you won’t be getting lots of strikes.

Leaders for each jigging rods and tip-ups needs to be fabricated from heavy 15- to 30-pound fluorocarbon fishing line. Relying on the dimensions of the fish you’re after and the mainline you’re utilizing, going as much as as excessive as 40- and even 50-pound fluro isn’t completely unreasonable. You’ll need to connect these leaders to your mainline with heavy barrel swivels as they’ll create extra stable connections than utilizing line-to-line connection knots.

Moreover, you also needs to at all times connect a size of chunk wire or wire leaders to any set-up when focusing on toothy critters like pike and muskie. These voracious predators are identified to inhale each the bait and the chief after they strike and have left many an angler with a waving tip-up flag however an empty line.

Find out how to Use Reside Bait for Trophy Fish

Reside bait is nearly at all times going to be your greatest fish producer in nearly any angling state of affairs. The pure motion of a minnow struggling towards a hook can be detected by the lateral traces of enormous predatory fish and draw them in to at the least take a more in-depth look. Whereas the struggles of smaller minnows will attract fish of all sizes, from large lake trout to petite crappie, to get the eye of the true large boys, you’ll need to use baits that make an impression.

Although there are just a few exceptions to this rule, corresponding to whenever you’re ice fishing for large bass, which appear to choose smaller choices throughout winter, typically utilizing baits which might be just too large for smaller fish to eat is one one of the best methods to make sure you’ll solely be catching trophy fish. Two of one of the best large fish ice fishing baits are giant 6- to 8-inch gold shiners and 8- to 12-inch white suckers. Each are available at most bait retailers, or when you’re bold, you possibly can really catch them your self earlier than the season, supplying you with one of the best bang to your buck. Large baits like these can be eaten by nearly every thing from walleye, pike, and lake trout to sturgeon and even catfish. Utilizing these baits in such giant sizes assures that solely true behemoths can be bothering with them.

In case your native store is out of or doesn’t promote such giant dwell baits otherwise you haven’t had an opportunity to catch them your self, utilizing a medium-sized 8- to 10-inch panfish like a perch or a sunfish that you simply’ve jigged up can be an choice. Oftentimes these will really work higher than store-bought baits as a result of they’re extra of a pure meals supply for big predators in sure lakes and huge rivers. Earlier than you do that, double-check that it’s authorized to take action on the physique of water you’re fishing, as such actions are towards the legislation in lots of locations.

When fishing a big dwell bait, giant 2/0 to 4/0 vast hole bait hooks which may be hooked by the bait slightly below and barely behind its dorsal fin are your greatest guess. It will be sure that the bait not solely survives but additionally hangs within the water at a slight downward angle when suspended beneath a tip-up or on a lifeless stick jigging rod. Hanging at this angle will permit the bait to wrestle and current a big profile to any passing predators whereas stopping it from swimming too laborious and setting off the tip-up. Moreover, giant fish are likely to swallow their prey head first, and hooking the bait additional again will forestall the fish each from feeling the hook and dropping the bait, and likewise from swallowing the hook too deeply do you have to need to launch it. Add just a few ¼- to ⅛-ounce heavy break up shot to the road to get the bait to the specified depth and to carry it in place, after which simply let it swim.

Fish live-baits on a number of tip-ups so you possibly can cowl lots of water without delay. Trophy fish may be present in quite a lot of totally different areas and at quite a lot of totally different depths, however one of the best spots to fish these dwell baits are in areas of depth transition. Most trophy-sized fish are roving predators that journey between shallow and deep water on the lookout for issues to eat. So, your greatest guess at hooking up with one is by setting your dwell baits in spots the place these fish are patrolling like alongside the sides of sharp drop-offs, off the factors of islands or peninsulas which might be instantly adjoining to deeper water, or on the mouths of creeks, inlets or shallow bays. Use electronics or a bathymetric map to search out these areas and arrange accordingly, protecting quite a lot of depths alongside the transition zones till you discover the candy spot.

Find out how to Use Lifeless Baits For Trophy Fish

Lifeless baits are one other nice selection for ice anglers seeking to land a monster. They are often left to soak on a tip-up all day when you fish different holes with out the baits being modified, and may result in your greatest catch of the day. Whereas many anglers might imagine that lifeless baits aren’t as efficient as dwell ones, the reality is that they’ll usually be simpler at occasions. That is very true throughout chilly snaps when predatory fish are extra sluggish.

“It’s a little bit of a cliché, nevertheless it’s true, ‘large baits catch large fish,’ and I’ll at all times be laying a giant lifeless bait on the underside after I’m after one thing really monstrous like a giant lake trout or a pike,” Jay mentioned. “Large fish underneath the ice like that aren’t going to waste lots of vitality chasing meals round. They’d fairly simply come up on a giant lifeless bait and inhale it. You additionally simply deter lots of smaller fish too as a result of they’re not going to trouble with a very large lifeless bait.”

Lifeless baits are additionally nice choices for anglers who don’t have a dwell bait store shut by as salted and brined baits may be present in most sporting items sections. You possibly can even discover efficient lifeless baits on the grocery retailer. As a result of they’re lifeless, there’s no worries about them escaping the hook and changing into an invasive species. Entire fish like mackerel, tilapia, and even trout out of your native seafood part generally is a nice bait choice.

Personally, I like to make use of large lifeless baits. I’m speaking at the least 10 inches, however usually someplace within the realm of 12 to fifteen inches. Baits that may solely be eaten by one thing really monstrous. The easiest way to rig these slab baits is by utilizing a stinger rig. These can both be bought and even made with two giant 3/0 to five/0 treble hooks, which each improve the possibilities of a hookup and permits the bait to hold horizontally within the water, making it look as pure as potential within the water.

To arrange a stinger rig, tie one treble hook to your chief, after which relying on the dimensions of the bait, take a 4- to 8-inch size of heavy 25-pound monofilament (or chunk wire when you’re after pike or muskie) and tie it to both the eyelet or one of many shanks of the hook. Tie the second hook to the tip of that size of line or wire in order that the 2 hooks cling vertically. Connect your lifeless bait to the rig by hooking the topmost treble hook by the middle of the again so that it’ll cling horizontally within the water and look extra pure. Lastly, hook the underside treble simply behind the bait’s head in order that it sits simply above the gill plate, and also you’ll be able to drop it within the gap.

Set your lifeless baits in deeper water off factors of construction. These can embody underwater humps, weed beds, rock piles, and reefs which is able to attract and maintain roving colleges of baitfish, which in flip rings the dinner bell for big searching predators. In locations the place it’s authorized, you possibly can even chum these spots with items of lower bait (sliced-up fish chunks) to attract baitfish and smaller predators into the realm. Set your baits on prime of and alongside the outer edges of those factors of construction by both suspending them simply above the underside or laying them instantly on the underside, and you then simply have to attend for a monster to maneuver in to feed.

Find out how to Jig for Trophy Fish

Jigging can be a really efficient technique when searching trophy fish. Plus, it provides you one thing to do between tip-up flags. However identical to whenever you’re utilizing dwell or lifeless baits on tip-ups, when you’re jigging for trophy-sized fish, you’ll need to use giant lures that draw lots of consideration.

Giant flutter spoons from 6- to 8-inches lengthy just like the Magnum Flutter Spoon or the Large Daddy are nice choices for fishing deeper water or when focusing on aggressive predators like pike. To make these spoons extra attractive, you possibly can tip them with both an entire lifeless shiner or minnow or a giant chunk of lower bait simply to place a little bit of blood within the water, which may be the proper factor to attract in a giant one.

Heavy ¼- to 2-ounce jig heads are one other glorious and intensely versatile trophy fish choice. These may be tipped with both lower bait, entire shiners, or delicate plastics like a 7- to 10-inch Hogy, or a 6- to 8-inch Grub Tail. These jigs can be utilized in quite a lot of depths however are simplest in comparatively shallow water from 6 to twenty ft deep. When fishing them, it’s usually greatest to make use of electronics like LiveScope or one other dwell feed fish finder, or an underwater digicam which might help you each discover the fish and present you ways something coming into your jig is reacting to your presentation. Typically you might have to differ your jigging cadence or velocity and even instantly lay your jig on the underside or rocket it again to the floor to set off a strike.

Keep The Course

Fishing for trophy fish is all about endurance. Being profitable usually means fishing for hours and generally even days with no strike. It may be a wrestle, one that always sees you wandering aimlessly across the ice, constructing snowmen, burning up information in your cellphone, and principally doing every thing however catching fish. But whenever you’re actually after a monster, sticking it out to the final second will usually see you rewarded.

“Even underneath the ice, lots of large fish aren’t feeding underneath the excessive solar, in order that makes the Golden Hour of sundown and dawn primetime for large ones,” Jay mentioned. “So lots of my greatest fish have been caught ultimately gentle, so when you’re after an actual large one, simply stick it out and keep out an additional hour longer than you’ve deliberate. Be the final one to go away the ice.”

Being persistent and enduring the chilly is the true key to success when focusing on trophy fish by the ice. It’s one thing you really need to be affected person with earlier than you possibly can reap the rewards, however ultimately it’ll all be value it. Regardless of how frozen your toes get, how far it’s a must to drive, or how attractive that Lazy Boy in your front room could appear, when you keep it up and use the proper approach, ice fishing for trophy fish can reply that query that enters your thoughts each time you look down into the darkness of an ice gap and surprise simply what lies beneath.

For extra ice fishing ideas and to look at Jay catch the monster laker within the function picture, click on right here.

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