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Fishing Tactics

Winter Fishing Tactics Effective All Four Seasons

Winter fishing is over for now. Ice came early and it looked like we were in for a long ice fishing season.Portable shelters have been cleaned out. Augers, skimmers, ice rods and reels have been put into storage waiting for the return of next season.

Don't put away your favorite winter lures just yet. These small lures are often your ticket to catching spring, summer and fall panfish. For years these small lures have been known as ice fishing lures but do not let the name fool you. Over the years, knowledgeable anglers have been using these lures to increase their catch of panfish in open water. These small baits are easy to carry with you, all you need is a small tackle box with compartments for lures, split shot and floats.

Presentation is the key to using these small offerings. You can use a long telescopic pole with no reel, light action (6 1/2' to 7') spinning rod or a fly rod. With a telescopic pole you can place your bait exactly where you want to fish, next to a brush pile, in a vegetation opening or next to a pier. Four-pound test monofilament would be standard for the pole or spinning gear with the lure tied directly to the line.

For baits you can use maggots, wax-worms, pieces of night crawlers, small minnows or  small plastics. The key is to keep it small.  I have been using spikes and wax-worms for open water fishing the past couple of years with good success.

In shallow water you can cast and retrieve with the aid of a casting bobber or still fish your presentation under a balanced float. When a float is balanced only a tiny portion of the tip is visible above water. This will offer no resistance when the fish sucks in your lure.

In deep water you may use a slip float or tight-line. With tight-lining you fish over the side of the boat with the line straight down and lure at the desired depth. This is a fast and effective method for catching active fish.

Last summer on a trip to the Cisco Chain in Northern Michigan, we used these methods and baits. Panfish action was good with an added bonus. We caught several small mouth bass, the two largest were an 18 1/2" and 19".

One final tip; always re-spool with fresh line at the beginning of each season.

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