Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Evening Crappie Bite

The ice has been beaten back by rain and 50 degree temperatures this week.  There is still hope that winter will want to act like winter and freeze hard for a month.  So let's all think cold thoughts and I'll post about my fun on the ice last weekend.

After helping my friend Dan (Pondboy) Byrne guide a fellow DuPage Angler member and his boys to a successful day ice fishing I was all set up to catch a few myself.  Dan and I said our goodbyes and I stayed to wait for the evening crappie bite.  

All morning fishing with the boys we were marking fish on bottom and some mid-column.  The bottom fish are usually bluegills and sometimes bass and the camera on my Vexilar and Dan's Fish TV showed crappie on the bottom too.  The mid-column fish are most always exclusively crappie.

I was set up and out of the wind in my Frabill Trekker Max shelter.  A small propane bottle powered a recent purchase, a Mr. Heater Buddy kept the air in the shelter warm and comfortable. 

My Vexilar FL-20 flasher was showing bottom and the occasional sonar return from the middle of the water column.  I set a what is known as a dead-stick rod mid-water column and began setting up my flasher to display my tungsten ice jig as a faint but noticeable green line on the circular display.

Of course I could go on and on about how to read the flasher but this video gives the basics.

On my custom made light power ice rod I tied a Fiskas Woflram Tungsten jig tipped with three or four spikes.  Opening my spinning reel's bail let the jig drop down toward the bottom.  My flasher showed the green line dropping down to a few feet from the bottom when I closed reel's bail to stop the jig's decent.

Twitch-twitch-bounce.  Twitch-twitch-twitch. 

I dropped the tip of my rod to lower the jig deeper.

Twitch-twitch-bounce.  <a sonar signal shows a fish breaking off the bottom>

Twitch-twitch-twitch. Twitch-twitch-twitch.Twitch-twitch-TAP....SET up straight and high.  Feel the wiggle and end up with a fish.

A quick photo and release later my jig was back down in the strike zone.

Twitch-twitch-TWITCH.  Twitch-twitch-TAP....SET

I am loving this flasher.  It means I can use only one rod with a float and a minnow while jiggling for other fish.  Speaking of my float isn't that it below the surface of the ice?

Why yes it was.  I quickly tightened my line and pulled lightly to set the hook into a pretty little crappie.  Come to think of it the sun was just starting to go down.  Maybe I should jig up higher for crappie.

Wait, is my float down?

Just jig.  Can't watch the flasher and the float.  Too many crappies on the way through.

I'm glad I stayed out on the ice.  I got a full day in using my flasher and camera, got to use my shelter and my new best "buddy" heater.  I know I can jig for fish on the bottom or mid-column and as long as I can see my jig and mark exactly what's below me it's amazing how much I can "see" with my flasher.

The wind picked up as the sun went down and the snow began to blow all sideways and sticky.  I got packed up and folded up the shelter, stowing gear and other items inside the shelter's sled-body.  I only had one thing to pull up onto the shore and load into my car.  

Looking back on last Saturday I hope that this week will be cold enough and stay cold enough to freeze our ponds and lakes.  I am looking forward to fishing Blackwell if it gets solid this year.

I've had such a good time already that I don't want to give it up yet.  Let us have winter.  Let us have safe ice.  Let us set up our shelters, sit in comfort and wait for that inevitable happening as dusk approaches.  Let us wait on our buckets, boat seats, and some of us on our knees all of us jigging for the evening crappie bite.