Icing Chubby Bass|
Kevin Dahlke (kevin)
BackWoods Sportsman OutDoors
Anglers in the winter months target many varieties of fish species that range from panfish, perch, sunfish and crappies to bigger game fish such as pickerel and bass. Here in New England running traps, tip-ups, for the bigger game fish is the norm, but those that want a little more variety should try jigging for bass.
There are a variety of different jigs on the market to target bass with from jigging spoons to jerk style baits. One of these baits, which have been working very well for us this ice season, is the Salmo Chubby Darter. These baits are used a lot in the Midwest for jigging up walleyes but have been working wonders here in New England for large and smallmouth bass.
The basss metabolism in the winter months slows down considerably but the need to feed is still there. By using livebait and traps you setup and then wait for the bass to come through to you. But jigging for bass allows you to keep on the move and find those bass that are more in the aggressive biting mood. These are the fish that are targeted and the fish that will make for a great day on the ice.
Location is one of the key factors in success and if you have favorite places that you fish in the summer, those areas are good starting points on the ice. Bass can be caught in shallow water as well as deep water and ranges in the 10 to 18 foot depths seem to be the most productive. Structure and baitfish are key points in finding active bass and having good electronics is also a key point to knowing what is going on below the ice.
Areas of concentration in searching for bass should be underwater points and where flats drop off into the deeper waters. Drilling many holes throughout these areas: with some on the shallow flats, to the downside slopes of the flats out towards the deeper waters as well as off of the deep sides of these flats into the deeper waters of the main lake. This will allow you to cover the whole area by moving from hole to hole in search of fish.
By having these holes you will be able to intersect the paths of these fish as they feed or move to the safety of deeper waters. As we get back to the bait of choice, the Chubby Darter, good electronics will pay big dividends in allowing you to see how the fish are relating to the Darter.
The Chubby Darter is a baitfish imitating hard bait that is worked to imitate a dying minnow. Many anglers will rip this bait upwards trying to entice a bite from the fish but we arent finding this technique to be working for us. Our presentation is much more subtle with the use of a limber tipped rod, lightly jigging the rod tip just to get minimal movement out of the bait.
By doing this subtle jigging, this makes the bait quiver like a dying minnow right before it dies. If you are watching the flasher and cant entice them to bite, raise the bait up a little and then work it again to see what they will do. Some days colors may not matter on certain days but then there are other days that you will change through every color you have with you to make for a successful day.
To catch bass in the ice season, keeping on the move is essential as well as location is very important. Keeping a good color selection on hand will allow you to change your baits up and give them something different to look at. Then the very subtle presentation of the action is what will seal the deal in making the bass commit to this and making a very enjoyable day on the ice.
By putting the myth that bass are lethargic and not willing to bite in the winter months behind you and just getting out there and searching and catching them. By working the bait lightly and keeping on the move, bass will be caught and they are a lot of fun to catch on ice fishing gear. Some of the biggest fish can be caught during the winter months and is also one of the best times of the year to catch them.
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