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naynayshimer

Ice Out Fishing

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Many of us (especially those like me up north) are anxiously waiting for the ice to melt so we can start fishing again. Most will drool at the sight of thawed water, but do we dare fish it? That early, cold, green water seems so intimidating, so unlikely to hold fish. but sometimes, it does.

that being said, what are your favorite ice out strategies? where to find the fish? what to use? I'd love to hear some ideas, as I would like to be successful as early as possible!!

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To be honest I have a hard time catching 'em after ice out.  If I'm fishing a river for smallies i usually start by looking for warmest water and rocks.  I often just throw a small jig or tube and work it really slowly to pick up bites.  Can't fish lakes in WI till first weekend of May and its mostly spawn by then.

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 Right after ice out suspending jerkbaits work really well. The slower the better, jerk jerk pause for a good 20-30 count maybe even longer. They will hit it on the pause. I have had success with a jig fished around main lake points in 10-20 feet of water, s-l-o-w-l-y dragging it along bottom. A blade bait worked at similar depths along points and super steep drop offs work well. Aggressively rip the bait off bottom and let it flutter back down to bottom. They will hit it when its fluttering down. When I go fishing this time of year I try to fish during a warming trend. The fish seem to be more aggressive on the third or fourth day of the warming trend. This could bring them up pretty shallow, square bill crankbaits along rocky shorelines produce well. A spring time cold front up north always makes for slow fishing. Another spot worth checking out is any rivers or streams that enter the lake. The rivers bring warmer water in to the lake in the early spring, they warm up quicker, as well as food in to the lake. Fish can stack up at the mouths of rivers big time if the water is warmer. The fishing right after iceout can be slow but, can also produce some huge fat females. Chances are there wont be to many bass fisherman out yet either. Green weeds in 10-15 feet of water can be good too, most weeds this time of year are dead. The bass will key in on the green weeds. There are some ideas for you to try anyway.

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Well, I see you are a NYer. I used to fish the canal a while back. I assume you are still shorebound?

 

In general:

 

1. Fish tend to winter deeper. But they can be drawn shallow early, esp in small waters, as that's where the food chains blosssom. (In big lakes wintering fish may be too far from the shallows to get there very quickly.) Look for heat. NW corners tend to warm first. When the little fish are there the big ones may be there too.

 

2. Fish ssslllllooooow stuff. As water warms you can start increasing horzontal speed. Vertical speed is less an issue and can actually trigger fish. Jerkbaits and jigs are primary. Lipless and weakly buoyant cranks can be good too. Spinnerbaits too. One spiinerbait I used years ago, that caught fish the earliest in the season for me, was one I doctored up to really slow down. It was a small lightweight (1/16 or 1/8oz) bucktail jig with a single Colorado bladed clip-on overhead spinner, adding a Twister trailer -the idea being that such a rig could be retreived at almost nil horizontal speed. If I could go slow enough I could catch them. It was a revelation to me at the time. Those fish were tight to the bottom too. Many I caught, and catch now, that early had mud stuck to their bellies. Once water hit 50F speed could pick up.

 

Good luck with the start of your year. Sounds like fun.

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We can't fish until April 27th. Ice out doesn't mean much to us here in MI. (If you're law abiding.)

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My favorite lure presentation after ice out is a blade bait. I'll keep it in the upper water column pumping gently on a steady retrieve.  The other way I've had success is letting it fall to the bottom and using a similar retrieve, but letting it fall before continuing to reel.  This are the two ways I'll use it while there is still ice on the water out from shore.  I've even cast on to the edge of the ice and hopped it into the open water and caught fish as it fell toward bottom.  Rarely is the water depth over 8-10ft. so when I say upper water column, I'm talking just far enough under the surface where I can't see the flash when I pump it. 

Once the water is ice free and I'm willing to launch my boat, I'll target the first drop at least a casting distance from shore. I'll sit on the shallow side of this structure and cast to the deep side of it. Once I contact fish, I'll move out to that depth and parallel the structure trying to keep in the strike zone.  If I can't maintain fish contact I'll move back to the shallow side and repeat.  Sometimes the fish will be active and aggressive and other times contact may only occur once an hour.  In the latter case, I'll switch back and forth between the blade bait and a squirrel tailed Mepps pumped ever so gently during the retrieve.

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We can't fish until April 27th. Ice out doesn't mean much to us here in MI. (If you're law abiding.)

We can't fish for bass until May 28, but we can fish border waters like the Mississippi river.

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:others-153:   I'm starting to think winter is here to stay this year...

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