Ontario Fishing Network E-Magazine

Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 11,  Issue 11,  Dec. 2011

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Tyler DunnEarly Ice Pike n Pannies!
Tyler Dunn Guiding
By: Tyler Dunn   Tyler Dunn Guiding

First ice opportunities almost always has me chasing panfish and pike on the lower parts of the St. Mary’s River system. The small, shallow, weedy bays that freeze first offer great cover for pannies which creates the ideal grounds for monster pike looking to gorge. The following are a few techniques I use when ice fishing shallow weedy bays for panfish and big pike.

Jig and Wait
When I use the term “jig and wait” the jig refers to jigging panfish up and waiting refers to targeting pike under a tip-up. Using these two set-ups to thoroughly work a weed bed is a deadly combination. For example if I am fishing a deep pocket (10ft) in the middle of a shallow bay (5ft) punching through the weeds looking for perch with a buckshot spoon, I always have a Ice fishing for perch and panfishsmelt on a quick strike rig hung along the edge of the pocket or suspended on the weed edge adjacent to the deepest water available. Baits can be hung anywhere from just above the weeds to a foot or two below the hole. This is one of my favourite methods of picking apart a weed bed looking for perch and crappie all the while waiting for a true giant to take the bait on a tip-up.

Run and Return
Run and return is a tactic I started using when I first began to target fish in the weeds through the ice. Basically instead of drilling holes to never return, I will drill a line of holes every 30 feet to my desired destination and then turn around and fish the same holes back to my starting point. Often times I found perch to be scattered throughout the weed beds only catching 1-2 from each hole unlike deep basin areas that produce dozens of perch from one hole when you find yourself on a school. Another big reason I began doing this was the fact I was almost always using a manual auger and I wanted to cover as much water as possible while cutting minimal holes.

Use Electronics
Any angler that puts time in on the ice should invest in a flasher. When fishing in shallow bays it can be hard to decipher a fish from weeds or worse a fish sitting in the weeds. Set your gain on your flasher to the setting that displays your lure as the smallest bar possible. Once you have your gain set to the correct setting and you’ve found your lure on the screen, it is time to watch for any signs of a fish moving up or down on the flasher screen. Fish will be a red bar that you will see inside of the weeds which show up as green bars. Experiment with different baits and watch how the fish react on your flasher. Once you find one that is working consistently then begin to start changing colours and try and fine tune your presentation. Flashers will not only help you catch more fish jigging but they also are a key ingredient to tip-up success. Set your quick-strike rig with precision over the weeds, suspended over a hole in a weed bed or at any exact depth you desire.

Prepare for Pike
Pan fishing can quite often become fast and furious with action. That being said when a flag goes off in the middle of a perch flurry, rarely are anglers prepared to land the fish properly if you do intend to release it. Since I practice catch and release with my winter pike it was a necessity to be prepared for a safe release especially when fishing alone. My pike release kit includes jaw spreaders, long needle nose pliers, side cutters, measuring tape and of course my camera. The kit comes with me anytime I run to a flag.

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