Early winter best time to put walleye on ice [UPDATED]Published 9:44am Wednesday, November 20, 2013 Updated 11:59am Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Across the ice belt there is no better time to put walleye on the ice – and eventually in the fry pan – than right now. Lots of us who love to fish live within easy driving distance of a body of water that probably has walleye swimming in it and, a quick end- of-the-day ice fishing trip can probably result in at least enough fish for a meal. Here are some suggestions for a simple, yet effective walleye fishing excursion.
Early ice is the perfect time for catching winter walleye as they often bite best for a period coinciding with first safe ice. Another important consideration revolves around time of day. Many waters across the Midwest offer a peak walleye feeding period at first light and again at day’s end.
The daylight-to-dark period, is in fact, the favorite time for most ice fishermen meaning that a right after work, or “hey boss can I leave an hour early” type trip can often be very productive. If possible, it is best to try to get on the ice as early as possible and get holes punched, portable shelter up, and lines in the water to avoid spooking walleye when they get active.
Many winter anglers have become adept at being organized and very portable to take advantage of quick, end-of-the day opportunities when they arise. Having a portable shelter packed with the essentials in the back of the pick-up truck and ready for a quick stop at the bait shop and then to the lake makes these type trips easy.
I have used Frabill’s one-person Commando portable shelter for my early ice trips for several years with great success. This shelter stores all my gear, allows for easy towing by hand, and doubles as an awesome fishing shelter when I get to my fishing spot.
Before the season starts, I pack and organize my gear so that when an end-of-the-day opportunity arises, I can easily be headed for the lake.
Another key to putting early walleye on the ice is the use of the right fishing lure and other gear. For me, the always reliable Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon is the “go to” jigging lure at early ice. The Super-Glo Perch pattern in the 1/8-ounce size has long been my favorite. This year, the bait is also offered in UV color patterns for even greater visibility to lure fish in from a wide radius.
Fishing aggressively with an attractive jigging spoon is important to first ice walleye success. The odds for success go up even greater when combining this approach with a good sonar unit that lets me “see” bottom, the jig, and any fish that approach it. This allows me to raise or lower my bait and adjust my jigging cadence to the fish’s liking.
Humminbird’s Ice 597 ci Combo sonar/GPS unit allows me to do just that and, also allows me to mark and find productive fishing spots. In fact, I have been catching fish late this fall (as I write this story) through open-water on several lakes and will use the GPS capabilities of this unit to return to the exact same productive spots at first ice!
First ice is a great time to head to a local walleye lake and put some of these scrappy fish on the ice and in the fry pan. Quick, end-of-the day trips are often tailor made for these fish. The suggestions just offered can, in fact, help anglers score on “quick trip” walleye this winter.
Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide. Visit his website at www.fishinwithfrisch.com.