Fishing and Yakking|
Kevin Dahlke (kevin)
BackWoods Sportsman OutDoors
There is a period here in New England, and across the northern United States for that matter, that the boats are put away but there isnt any ice yet. We sit and look at our favorite bodies of waters and wish for the days that we can wet a line once again. For those that continue their fishing throughout the winter months and not hang it up as some anglers do, dont fret as there are still ways to enjoy catching a fish.
We winterize out bigger boats as the cold nights wreak havoc on our inboard and outboard motors especially with the lower units. Then there are the anglers that take to the ice once that is safe enough for one to walk on in search of the swimming quarry that lies below. This transition period can be short lived but it could also go on for a couple of months.
Here in New England early season ice can happen in the beginning of December, but that seems to be a rarity. It will take until almost February in certain years and this does get very frustrating to the ones that want to drill a hole and sit on the ice. But normally around Christmas time we are usually finally on the ice and this couldnt be a happier day.
But until those days come what shall we do to wet a line if the water is not hard yet? What I have been doing the last few years is to pull out the kayak and put it to good use. There are many ponds around my area that I am not able to get my bigger boat into so this time of year is when I explore a number of these smaller ponds with my kayak. These smaller ponds are much less pressured as well and this time of year I like to concentrate on the pan fish species of fish as well.
I use a tandem kayak on my fishing trips as this gives me a little more room to stow my gear and spread things out a little better. How I fish out of the kayak is similar to how you fish while on the ice fishing. I like to use my flasher with the transducer hanging over the side as well as my ice fishing rod/reel combo. While watching the flasher I am vertical fishing the jig and watching for fish activity suspended off of the bottom just like you do while ice fishing.
By keeping your bait, rod and everything else near the side of the boat, this is preparing me for once the lakes ice over. I generally paddle around the area that I am fishing and watch the flasher for signs of fish activity. Once the screen is lit up then I will drop the anchor and try and hold my position over these fish. There is one drawback that I am experiencing with the anchoring and that is if there is wind, the wind will turn you around the anchor line and this in turn affects my presentation as I will move over the fish and miss those until I am brought back around.
You learn how to play the timing game and if it gets fairly windy out there you will need to add a little more weight to get the bait down there a little faster. I am using typical ice fishing jigs that are made for pan fish and these are micro hair jigs as well as micro plastic baits. No bobber is used as I have a spring bobber attached to the end of the rod and use that for bite detection.
I am fishing totally like I would be fishing out on the ice with the gear that I am using. Instead of casting and searching for fish the way you do in the summer months, I am vertical fishing just as you do in the winter months but in the kayak. By fishing this way you are able to watch the flasher and find the more active fish.
As I paddle around watching the screen, what I am looking for is fish that are suspended off of the bottom from 3 feet to 8-10 feet up off of the bottom. If you are able to find areas that the fish are doing this, these are active fish and will be a little easier to coax into biting. But there is no guarantee that they are going to jump all over your offering as there are many days that they are suspending but refuse to bite anything that you put down there.
This time of year you pretty much have the lake or pond all to yourself as those frigid cool days keeps the average person off of the water. But the fish that we are looking for are feeding because they know that as the water is cooling, winter is coming and they need to fatten up before that takes over. These solitude days that you are out there floating in the crisp cool air, allow you to sit and ponder your thoughts as well as see what is happening in the wildlife activities.
Other then getting some cold fingers, I really enjoy this time of year for fishing and also just paddling around my favorite pond. Fishing generally isnt too bad and fish are caught on most outings, but there are days they are jumping into the boat as well as the other days that you really have to work at getting them to bite.
If you have a small craft, kayak, canoe, or jon boat, you owe it to yourself to dig it out of the snow and get to a local pond. I know that we still have some time here to take advantage of this and will definitely get out a few more times before the ice takes over. Nothing better than floating around trying to catch a fish instead of sitting on the couch and looking out the window. Get out there and enjoy these times as winter is coming and some anglers wont come out till spring.
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