Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rippin' Lips with the Zipper

I got out on the ice early Saturday morning. Pondboy and I drove separately and DuPage Angler member JC1Crappies beat us to the pond.  JC1 drilled test holes before Pondboy and I arrived and was taunting us with pictures of crappie he was catching in the pre-dawn snow.  Pondboy and I dragged our sleds out onto the ice.

The snow we had earlier in the week was four inches deep for most of our walk to where JC1 was catching fish.  Pondboy got ahead of me but half way to JC1 he dropped to his knees and then fell on his back.  I yelled his name a few times before he popped up on his knees and resumed dragging his sled.  Once I caught up to him I found out he was making a snow angel.  I reminded him of our age and that I thought he could be having a heart attack.  He promised not to do any more snow angels unless I was close enough to know he was just playing around.

We drilled holes, flashed the holes, found bottom structure we liked and set up our shelters. Pretty soon after setup I was able to tease a mark up to my jig and get it to eat. 

A very nice sized crappie came up for a photo!  I thanked it for eating my jig and let it slip back into the cold water below my shelter.  The bite slowed and not many marks appeared on my Vexilar.  I decided to change tactics and stop using marmooska style jigs and use a bait that would call the fish to it.  Another DuPage Angler member CSimon caught a very decent perch from this pond two years ago.  This memory guided my lure choice.  I pulled out a Plano box and picked a Salmo Zipper in Hot Perch color.  

It wasn't long before the commotion made by ripping the Zipper up and down in the water column made light marks appear on my flasher.  I settled the lure down near the bottom and wiggled my rod to make the Zippper rattle lightly.  A mark moved in quickly.  I teased it up to mid-column before it bit.

A crappie ate my Zipper. Look how far down this fish's mouth the Zipper is.  This would be the way almost all fish would eat the Zipper today.  I released this nice speck and dropped in for a chance at another fish.  It didn't take long.

This guy T-Boned it!  That means he shot in from the side, opened his big crappie mouth and GULP!! This Zipper fishing is great fun!  I wonder if any other species will eat the Zipper.

That's what I figured.  Crappies and Bass are going to be feeding on small perch and this largemouth clobbered my Zipper!  I saw another mark on my flasher so I released the bass quickly and dropped the Zipper back down the hole.

ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!!  The reel's drag squealed!  Bounce, bounce goes the rod tip with deep headshakes!  Three more runs later this estimated three pound bass whacked my Zipper and ran hard away from the hole when he figured out he was hooked.   That was tons of fun!

It was that much sweeter since I made the rod I caught it with.  The rod performed flawlessly after hardly being used last year. I just didn't have confidence in anything that wasn't a panfish jig.  I'm enjoying seeing the error of my ways manifesting in some great fish all caught on a baitless, crank-style jigging bait; the Salmo Zipper!

Most of my fish came on the Zipper.  A few fish ate my deadstick.  A deadstick is a rod that just sits there next to you.  Generally it's got a minnow on a ice jig floating under a slip-bobber all running down the hole.  I had the minnow positioned close to the bottom.  I was hoping to catch a decent perch.  All of a sudden Pondboy yells for me to come over to his shelter.  His deadstick got hit and he had a surprise for me.

The day's only perch.  It was a nice one too! It's always great to have a multi-species day that includes something other than panfish and largemouth.

The snow had stopped and the sun was out.  It was still a bit chilly but we'd had a great morning! I was pleased to call it a day after a lot of catching.  The key to my success today was simple; I thought outside of my little fishing box.  I used tackle that I had purchased to work with a rod I had built that I hadn't used.  It's great to get some confidence in a bait and I can say I now have fantastic confidence in the Salmo Zipper!