For those of us in the North Country, ice fishing is just around the corner. The start of the season can provide some incredible action. Here are four must-have baits for icing big panfish all winter long.
1. Jigging Minnows
Slab crappie and jumbo perch love jigging minnows, such as the Rapala Jigging Rap. When panfish are on the chew at early ice, the big profile of these lures and wide, gliding action really have a knack for catching trophy panfish.
2. 1.5 and 2.0 Inch Tube Jigs
Tube jigs fool all species of panfish in winter. Brown, black, and olive baits can be used to decoy crayfish, nymphs, and other invertebrates that panfish eat. White, pearl, and bone tubes are excellent freshwater shrimp and minnow lookalikes. Fish have a hard time resisting the vulnerable, slow, spiral fall of a tube.
3. Rattling Spoons
Rattles are great for enticing big panfish. The Northland Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon and Lindy Rattl’n Flyer are two great choices. Snap-jig the spoon and bang it on bottom to attract panfish. Then shake and pause it to trigger a bite. Tipping with minnow meat or artificial scent-loaded soft bait makes this offering even more potent.
4. Ice Jigs
No panfish angler worth their weight in salt should be on the ice without a good mix of small ice jigs. The jigs are usually tipped with live maggots or artificial soft-bait. When quivered, an ice jig is one of the most reliable presentations going on tough bites. Carry a mix of vertical, horizontal, and ‘tweener, 45-degree-angle profile jigs. Northland Fishing Tackle’s Hexi Fly, JB Lures Panfish Ice ‘N Jigs Kit, and Eagle Claw Tear Drop Glow Jig are some examples of these jigs.
Be sure to stock-up on these ice-fishing lures this season. They’re reliable choices for fooling panfish.
Remember, success with artificials hinges on how you jig the bait. Timing plays a role in fish activity as well. Read this blog to find out why twilight is primetime for ice fishing.