It is a total understatement to say that I had been struggling the first couple of times on the ice this season, but things are finally starting to pay off for me. Burger King and Mcdonalds are no longer my only diet, because I finally have a fresh meal of Walleyes to fill my belly.
Just when it seemed like I would be selling my gear and finding a different sport to tie me over for the winter, I finally struck gold and got on a good bite. This unusually warm weather has allowed me to be very mobile and search out new water and find the early ice Walleyes and Perch in places I don't usually catch them. With many of my "go to" spots failing me early on I found myself drilling many holes and fishing spots that I have never jigged before. I guess persistence pays off if you keep on trying, because last night I stumbled onto a large school of Eyes and Perch just off of a steep break in 15 to 18 ft of water. Unlike many metro waters that I fish, this lake has no weed edge, and the fish were concentrated on an inside cut in the breakline. The weapon of choice for these critters has been a shiner on a plain hook under a float, and jigging a green and white Northland spoon tipped with a waxworm on each treble hook. That's right, I said waxworms. I find this to be extremely deadly for both perch and walleyes, and I use this setup all winter long. The key for me has been drilling about 20 holes in different depth ranges around the school of fish, and moving every couple of minutes to find new fish. It seems like every time I go to a different hole, I jig up a walleye almost instantly. It's great when warm weather allows for this technique, because you can throw many walleyes on the ice in a hurry when they decide to bite, and you don't have to wait around for them to come to you.
Last night I kept a couple of nice Eye's for dinner along with a couple of Perch. I released a few others that I felt were too large for my pan and felt very good about doing it. This morning I returned to make sure it wasn't a fluke and was very surprised to find that I didn't bring enough bait for the intense action the fish were giving me. By the time I ran out this morning I had 3 nice eater walleyes, a handful of respectable perch and couple that I threw back to catch another day. The only frustrating part about this morning was all the walleyes I had in my hole that somehow got away, and the weakness in my line. I broke off under the ice 2 times on 19 - 20" walleyes, and had 3 more slip out of my hands in the hole. I will now be purchasing larger treble hooks for my jigs, and new line that won't break. Nothing irritates me more than when my equipment fails on nice fish. Oh well, I'll be eating good tonight anyway. Fish On!