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Snow has been falling and the ice has been forming up. That means two words for this angler. Ice. Fishing. Now to be completely candid I’m out of practice. I got to go a few times in college …
Snow has been falling and the ice has been forming up. That means two words for this angler. Ice. Fishing. Now to be completely candid I’m out of practice. I got to go a few times in college with some friends of mine and their MarCum sonar rigs and fancy rod combos. Before that I spent a few years of my youth passively tending some tip-ups that my dad would set up on the lake for me to watch. Ice fishing can be really cool when you know where to go and you aren’t fighting broken or cheap equipment. I’m not the type to go out and drop a grand on all the toys and gadgets that go along with it though. I have a hand auger, not a motorized one, I don’t have a sled or a tent to hide in, and I’ve never even owned a tip-up that wasn’t the classic wooden style you see in all the general stores and bait shops (never bought one either, all hand-me-downs from my dad). This aside, what else is there to do in the winter? Sure you can go skiing, or build a snowman, even hunting for certain limited seasons, but ice fishing is where it’s really at. It’s always good to catch fish, but my goal for the winter is to get back into the game and learn a few things. It’s a different sport than fishing in the summer, just as much as shore fishing and boat fishing are different from fly fishing.
I went to Tom’s Bait and Tackle again here in Narrowsburg, and as always I faced the wall of hard decisions. What to choose, what to choose. I looked at some poppers, I looked at some topwater bumblebee lures by Rebel, and about a thousand variations on spinners. It felt like when you are trying to find a good movie on TV and nothing is on with hundreds of channels to choose from. Finally I thought about my desire to get out ice fishing and found the jigs. I’m as gullible as a panfish and so my eyes gravitated to the shiny blades on the Road Runner Jigs by Blakemore. I grabbed a couple with different colors and in two different sizes. An orange/red and green one in a sixteenth ounce size and a yellow and blue one in an eighth ounce size.
Blakemore jigs are an interesting design because they aren’t the normal tear-drop or conical shape of other standard jig heads. They have a boot-like shape to them and are painted, body color and eye. Opposite the tie on mounted to the heel of this “boot” is a swivel that is also painted with the body color and holds a small silver spinner blade less than the size of a dime. On the hook of the jig head comes a soft grub-style plastic with corresponding colors to the painted jig head. The hook protrudes on the opposite side of the lure as the blade. The blade is designed not to rotate around the whole lure, but rather in place, only on the one side as it moves through the water. The eighth ounce jig I picked up has a soft plastic that mimics squid style bait. See the yellow and blue lure pictured here. Instead of a single tail, there are several tentacles that wiggle in the water. I’m not sure how the colors will perform, but the weights should be about right for jigging through the ice in some crappie spots I have in mind. Jigging is a style of fishing that can be done from a boat or in this case through a hole in the ice, where you drop the lure down to the bottom and either lift it repeatedly allowing it to fall back to the bottom or slowly making progress towards the surface in a bobbing and sinking pattern which attracts the attention of fish.
These jigs in particular are designed to target panfish like crappie. The blade adds another element of refracted light and the soft plastic simulates a swimming motion. As they are “jigged” they will wiggle upwards and then dive, following the nose of the jig head and repeat as they are maneuvered like puppets in the icy water. You can do the same thing with these in the summer time, however, I prefer so many other methods during the summer that I often don’t. Ice fishing limits you to a certain area and rather than casting horizontally and having a retrieve, you have to know where things are in the lake you are fishing and try to target nests and other structures that would attract the fish to that specific spot. Live bait is largely used in ice fishing as many lures cannot be jigged. To my knowledge floating lures are basically useless in the winter through the ice.
Grab some Road Runner jigs by Blakemore and try them out. I’ll be out on the ice as soon as it’s thick enough. I won’t be rushing like some guys though. I need a good eight to ten inches before I start to trust it. I don’t care if I have to drill through it all.
*If you have any luck with the lure of the week, feel free to email your pictures to email@example.com for an opportunity to share them on our website. If you have a favorite kind of lure we haven’t reviewed yet, feel free to send that lure to our office at PO box 150 Narrowsburg, NY 12764. We will add it to our weekly reviews and share the results. Check back each week on Fridays to see the new lure of the week!