Being versatile when ice fishing is often times key to coming up with a bucket full of crappies or bucket full of “what might have been.” Sure, a person can be complacent and sit and jig one hole but it is the rare occasion when a school is big enough, or the bait tasty enough, to have your Friday fish fry at home.
So is the case on lakes like Lake Winnebago- to succeed, an angler has to be mobile, and fast at changing baits to figure out what will get bit. That happened when Matt Bichanich headed on the ice to film an ice-segment for Midwest Outdoors last year. He, and professional guide Larry Smith, knew they’d have to move to find the biters.
“The key on Winnebago is often times just finding dirtier water,” Bichanich said. “You have to move until you find water that isn’t too clear. The fish in that system are finicky if the water is visible from the bottom to the top.”
The anglers drilled a lot of holes until they found the right stuff. But they needed a one-two punch to hit pay dirt .
“We weren’t able to get bit by just dropping down an ice jig,” he said. “We had to get the schools fired up. We used a new 1/24 ounce Kastmaster to get the school going, and did catch some crappies and white bass, but we’d also slow down and shake the spoon less aggressively to get the more finicky biters. “
Helping them in the task was the new Beaver Dam Titanium Tip Stick. The rod is the first of its kind in the industry in that it has a retractable titanium spring bobber. The advantage is that an angler can retract the spring bobber when jigging bigger spoons, but it can be pulled out when an angler needs to see subtle hits.
“We found our best strategy was to jig very aggressively with the bobber retracted,.” he said. “You needed that stiffer rod to get the right action out of the spoon. We’d get the school fired up and then extend the tip of the rod when we needed to detect lighter bites. It’s the only rod that can do that. It saved us a ton of time because we didn’t need to change rods or retie baits.”
The added benefit is that there is less gear involved, so anglers can be more mobile.
“It’s nice because anglers can save money because they only need one rod for a variety of applications,” he said. “That comes in handy when you are outfitting an entire family for ice fishing. Ice fishing is one of the few sports where everyone can participate. You don’t need a fancy bass boat. You don’t need a big truck to pull it either. You simply grab affordable gear and head out with your family and enjoy a day on the hard water.”
With the cold hitting early this year, it’s shaping up to be a good early ice year. Find the dirty water on Winnebago with the proper gear and you too might be the angler that feeds his or her family on a modest budget.