Friday, December 7, 2012

Downsizing for the Coldwater Bite

Water temperatures in lakes are now falling into the mid to low 40's in Southern Ohio and many species of fish have began to move into deep main lake basins. Last year we took advantage of the mild winter and fished year round for panfish using small jigs manufactured for ice fishing purposes. One ice jig that I have grown particularly fond of are called moon jigs. They are shaped like a crescent and are painted with a florescent color that glows in low light conditions. These jigs are extremely small, ranging from dime sized all the way down to a quarter of a dime. Below shows three roundhead jigs 1/8oz (white), 1/16oz (pink), 1/32oz (black), and three moon jigs....which are not rated by weight.

We typically tip ice jigs with small pieces of nightcrawler or waxworms, and reserve the roundhead jigs for nose hooking live minnows. When live bait isn't available, or the bite is hot, we pair roundhead jigs with a wide variety of soft plastics. This spring we used a lot of tube baits on 1/16oz roundhead jigs, but lately I cant keep enough Bobby Garland swimbaits in my tacklebox.

One productive technique we use when the bite is slow is vertical jigging. We'll drop the jig to the bottom and then slowly bring the jig off of bottom, approximately 1 feet every 3 seconds. Stopping 5 or 6 seconds every now and then to entice a fish into biting. Once I get halfway up the water column I'll drop my bait back down and try again. If I get a nibble, I take note of how far I was off of bottom and I try to spend more time suspended in that range on the next drop. A half an hour without a bite is too long, so we typically move to a new spot, one that differs in depth typically 10 feet or so.

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