Another special Target Walleye/Ice issue, this time filled with early-ice baits and other stuff you absolutely “need” lol!
Heads up that I’m givin’ the TW sponsors some love here ‘cuz they: A) make great stuff and B) help make this all possible for your enjoyment.
Btw happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Hope your day is filled with family, food and fishing…or at least fishing stories…. Be safe out there!!
Can never have enough baits!
Can catch ’em lots of different ways early-ice while oxygen levels are high and the fish are active. Spoons, rattlebaits, jigs…we’ve got you covered! [drool emoji]
1. Spoon feed ’em
How many jigging spoons are there — a million? Two million?
No doubt there’s a pile out there…’cuz they straight-up catch fish! You’ve probably already got your faves — which might be in this list too — else maybe you’ll find a new go-to neither you nor the fishes have seen before….
Know it’s designed for bigguns when it’s named “Peg,” after Lake Winnipeg…land of the greenbacks. Way it dances on the drop caught my attention — few seconds of that in this vid talkin’ ’bout it. Bright colors on a big profile flash ’em in from a distance:
Didja know Bagley’s been making spoons for DECADES? Things put off more flash than your aunty’s camera before Thanksgiving dinner (#cheese). Can get ’em in gold or silver, with hammered or mirrored finishes:
Honestly have never tried single-hook spoons ‘cuz always thought they looked funny. Been told the single hook (instead of a treble) swings more naturally — like a minnow’s tail — and is great when panfish are fussy, or really big and smart:
The new classic. Everyone needs a couple rattlers in their box. Don’t have a ton of action, but let their words do the talking instead:
2. Shake, rattle and roll ’em out
Sometimes you’ve gotta ring the dinner bell to bring fish to the table….
Bagley Rattlin’ B PlusBig-nasty bait for bigger-nastier fish. Designed by Jarmo Rapala (grandson of Lauri “The Legend” Rapala) as a deeper-running lipless crank, but is also ideal for hardwater. Rattles are grab-your-ear-plugs loud to bring fish to you…then has a fluttering spiral action — like wounded/dying prey — so they put their lips on it:
The new #3 “snack size” weighs just 1/16-oz soakin’ wet — has a slightly larger profile than your thumbnail — and is already icing big ol’ slabradoodles across the ice belt. Here’s the one Joel Nelson tried to steal outta my box:
Believe this is the first “balance bait” (AKA hard-bodied jigging bait) with a rattle chamber built into the tail. Killer for shallow stained water and expansive flats where walleye have to find the bait:
> Has a wide gliding motion to fish far off the side of the hole, maximizing your fishable space. Use short repetitive rod snaps to attract walleye in and then small jiggles to activate the rattles and elicit strikes.
Takes some practice, but you can work it like a puppet: make it dart off and swing in a pendulum or figure-8 motion. Mix and match different plastic tails (or minnows) on the back to change the look/action:
Here’s a vid playing ’round with a 1/8-oz Water Puppet paired with the tail off a YUM Genie worm. Could sit and tinker with different combos all day long in the tank:
One thing that makes it different is the glow epoxy resin treble you can really get swinging to seal the deal on sightsee-ers. They’re switching over to single packs, so 3-packs are chopped down to just $9.99. Guess Black Friday came early:
May look like a panfish jig, but this is actually 7mm of walleye catchin’ tungsten. Weighs 9/64 oz with a super-sticky #6 Japanese hook and can pound through the weeds to bottom when walleyes hunker down during tough bites:
Jig designer Chekai “The Croatian Sensation” Matan legit sent me this pic of him catching “magnum fish” with it lol:
How do you know you’re actually fishing the fish you’re after…and not sittin’ on a school of suckers? Most-easiest way to know FO SHO is to actually see ’em, and Aqua-Vu has been helpin’ us to do just that for the last two DECADES.
Water can be cloudy at first ice — thanks to the wind churning things up before the freeze — and back in the day underwater cams were nearly useless…not no mo with Aqua-Vu’s new HD camera lens.
Brian Brosdahl likes using ’em in down-view mode to see how fish react to the bait:
Love that their newest HD units have a detachable — and RAM mountable — screen so you can slap it on your boat, wheeler, truck, permie shack, forehead, you name it:
Crazy lightweight and fully decked-out “shuttle” for your ice flasher/sonar. Has a 12Ah lithium-ion battery that can extend a unit’s run time by 40+ hours [!] and trim about 3 lbs off. Plus LED lights, USB power ports and rod holders. #Jackpot
Quick walk-through with a sunburnt-as-heck Brad Hawthorne:
Fell in love with these egg beaters last season when using ’em for panfish, lake trout and everything in-between. That C-10 matches up nicely with most all ice rods and is a budget-friendly $44.99. #Purtty
You hard-house guys have probably been “driveaway camping” for weeks now. Case you’re out there wrenchin’ — getting ready for things to thicken up — here’s a rod rack that’s actually made for ice rods. Can even store ’em up on the ceiling, outta the way:
Flat out: If you ever break through the ice, this suit will help get you back out. What more does a guy need to say? Plus the 300-denier shell is like wearing a fish house, so you’ll stay out hole hopping instead of hiding by the heater in the shack:
Bonus ice-safety tip: Stop using your “spud bar” (AKA chisel) as a walking stick, and start learning what each swing means for you in actual inches of ice.
Three hard swings might mean 2″ of ice for some…might mean 5″ for others. Completely depends on which specific chisel you’re using and how hard you’re swinging it:
Completely re-designed. Runs/spins/cuts faster…like a rocket….The 8″ F1 Rocket Auger (gas) weighs just 22 lbs [!] and the 8″ P1 (propane) is the lightest propane on the market at 26 lbs. S’more info from Eskimo Sales Manager Trever Miller:
Up for an adventure?
Fishing the same lakes each time out can get a bit stale. Here’s some incredible spots to get in on the early-ice goodness if you’re up for a roadtrip.
First thing that comes to mind is Lake Winnipeg and its portly “greenback” walleyes, but there’s zillions other options too depending on what you wanna catch. Ice-heads have already been plucking fish through the ice for a couple of weeks now [insert not-fair, huffy-puffy breath here]!
Here’s a few recent pics that’ll make you wanna head north ASAP:
I’m planning to get back up there again in a few weeks to chase greenbacks and maybe some of those gorgeous brown trout like the pic above. Seems like no matter what species you’re chasing up, it grows stupidly big in Manitoba.
Earlier this fall I gave my Favorite Jack Hammer a workout while pitching around light jigs/plastics at Bloodvein River Lodge — for sure the most gorgeous place I’ve ever fished. BTW – don’t know exactly how that rod got it’s name, but it weighs just 4 ozs so it feels like a freakin’ jack hammer hit the bait when they’re on it lol.
The fall bite was en fuego [fire emoji] with good numbers of walleyes in river, along south shore and in the NW Angle. Seen it before up there: a hot fall bite usually = excellent ice feeshin’, and you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy it.
They have “full-service ice fishing” where all you gotta do it show up. They pick you up from the resort and drive you to a heated fish house where the thermostat is set to 70 deg and the fish are hungry. Will even bring you back to shore in time for “happy hour” if that’s what you’re into…unless you’d rather have “happy hour” on the ice:
That’s Zippel Bay Resort’s Igloo Bar that they set up ON THE ICE each year. Big screen TV, full bar, food menu…and the answer is “yes,” they catch some g-g-g-GIANTS out of it:
Lake Alice (National Wildlife Refuge) will be open for ice fishing again this season and it’s one of the first areas of Devils Lake to get safe ice. Sounds like it may have locked up last week — main lake won’t be too far behind.
Devils Lake is a world famous perch fishery — with 15-16″ jumbos being a real possibility — but don’t overlook the hefty walleye population. Leave the 6″ auger at home: Devils is packed with freshwater shrimp and the fish have serious girth.
Not everyone is into the whole ice-feeshin’ thing…some may curl up with a good book (or 2018 Lund catalog lol) instead and daydream of warmer times. Of course it doesn’t freeze over everywhere — there’s actually some open-water fishin’ fools whackin’ the slush melons RIGHT NOW as you read this.
Gotta shout out the purtty new 3DR (Real) Series of Jerkbaits, Long Bills and Minnows. Have an “internal 3D prism” that’s supposed to be killer on heavily-pressured fish or super-clear water. Might feel bad getting teeth marks on these gaw-jus patterns though:
Who is Target Walleye/Ice?
Target Walleye/Ice — walleye during open water and all species during hardwater — is brought to you by Al and Ron Lindner, Jim Kalkofen, Brett McComas and other diehard fish-nuts like you! #fishheads
Brett McComas is the main man for Target Walleye/Ice. He was discovered in Brainerd, MN after years of wondering how in the heck people break into the fishing biz. He’s in it now, but still can’t answer that question…. Brett is one of those guys who majored in marketing, only because there was no such thing as a “fishing degree” at the time…. Get him at email@example.com