Monday, January 23, 2023

Time for FRESH Line

There is no doubt that the mid-winter blues are here for us.  The easy bites and eager fish are no longer so cooperative on the ice.  The recent rain, then heavy snow pac on most of Iowa's lakes has caused the slowdown to increase the typical mid-winter blues.  I am not sure of the exact science, but sunlight surely does play into it.  The fish, typically are more lethargic this time of year than any other time.  As ice anglers we need to do everything possible to get bite possible this time of year.  Smaller jigs and live bait offerings are a good place to start, but over the past few years I have noticed a big difference after changing line on my finesse rods.  

Fresh line does two major things this time of year.  First, you will immediately notice the or spin of your lure will almost disappeared.  This is crucial this time of year when panfish will look and study your bait.  This can be seen first hand when sight fishing, or when using a camera to study the fish.  When your jig is spinning...which is not a natural thing for microorganisms to do, the fish will simply back away.  Secondly, your line will now be "less curly".  New line, no matter what reel you use will always have some memory, this is worst with a spinning reel.  The coils in the line will give an advantage to the light biting fish.  When there are coils in your line, you loose a lot of sensitivity and direct contact with your jig.  When fish are slow and picky, you want total control over your jig and you want the utmost contact with your jig.   My favorite ice line for panfish is 2lb test line.

If you are experiencing the mid-winter blues, get to your Scheels and grab some new line.  Soon you will be catching more fish through this tough winter slow-down.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Don't Overlook Your Reels for Ice Fishing

It's all fun and games...until someone loses a fish!  All too often those "big ones" get away when we are ice fishing.  Most of the time while on the ice, people across the state are fishing for panfish.  This allows anglers to use two or three pound test line.  By doing so you can manage your line much better, keep it flowing off your reels more easily, and stay under the radar of detection from the fish.  All these are great reasons to use small diameter line during the winter, and in most cases is necessary to have a good day of fishing during the cold weather months.  However, there will come a time when a hungry bass, walleye, catfish or pike takes your panfish offering.  All too often this battle is lost very quickly and the larger species of fish is swimming away with your lure.  

This unfortunate event can be the result of many things; weak spot in your line, sharp toothed creatures, a bad knot, or a drag malfunction.  The more and more I tangle with larger fish (mostly a non-target species) the more I believe that it is the latter that will cause heartache or success.  A well manufactured drag system set properly can bring in fish much larger than your line specifications will indicate.  I was reminded of this once again this past weekend while perch fishing.  My Vexilar lit up bright white and without a hesitation a rather large Northern Pike decided that she like my jigging spoon and was going to eat it.  The fight was on, about half way through the battle, as she was stripping drag for the third of fourth time, I said to my friends watching, "I'm sure glad I hooked this fish with this rod and reel".  Of the three ice fishing combos I had brought along that day, the one I was using has the best reel on it.  The drag is smooth and it was working wonderfully.  The pike made run after run, and finally it had to give up.  I won this battle with two-pound test line and the Quantum Smoke S3 reel.  It has the smoothest drag I know, and on that day it was put to the test!  When choosing your next spinning reel, check out the drag components, it is pretty simple, the more parts or discs in the drag assembly, the smoother the drag will be. 

Quantum Smoke S3  Size 15
Ice anglers take a lot of pride in their rods, but we often forget out the reels we choose.  I have seen anglers pay $40-$150 for an ice rod but then get a $25 reel to pair with it.  Take a look around your ice combos when you get a chance, perhaps your next upgrade should be on some reels, not the newest, latest, greatest rod.  Good fishing to you, hope you find this helpful, and you have the chance to catch your next BIG ONE!