Target Walleye/Ice email

Finesse panfish tips, Which Rap when, Bigguns of the week

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Today’s Top 5

Tony Roach: Which “Raps” to fish when.

Rapala’s got a killer arsenal of baits made for calling fish in. All pull fish through the ice, but knowing which one to tie on when will for sure help you to catch more. Roach’s general rule-of-thumb is Jigging Raps for early ice, Rippin’ Raps in mid-winter, and Slab Raps later in the season:

> “Early ice in particular, you get a fair amount of young-of-the-year die-off, so those fish will really be keying in on Jigging Raps…they fall with an erratic swimming motion that matches the struggle of those minnows.

> “It’s a fantastic bait for early-ice, but also when fish are really aggressive throughout the season in the daytime hours…I’ll go to more natural colors: blue chrome, silver and perch. In stained water I will use UV colors.

> “Rippin’ Raps often draw more bites at dawn and dusk, or in really stained water. They’ve got a rattle that can help those fish hone in on your bait, and this is when your UV colors are key — it’s like a beacon in the night.

> “Later in the winter…when they’re really not willing to go outside their strike zone to hit something, that’s where I like to fish more up-and-down presentations like the Rippin’ Rap.

> “The Rippin’ Rap bite really heats up when we’re fishing a little deeper and the fish are somewhat suspended…I’ll fish it a lot higher in the water column than I would a Jigging Rap.

> “When they’re really keying on Rippin’ Raps or Jigging Raps, but just won’t fully commit, a Slab Rap’s a great alternative. It has a real slow, subtle fall, yet it still has enough action to draw fish in.

> “I really like the profile on the Slab Rap for later in the winter, for walleyes and perch in particular. It looks exactly like the young-of-the year prey they’re feeding on.”

Tony’s got a lot more info on the subject right here.

Paunchy slush melons of the week!

UT’s Jake Hammer thwacked his new PB gravel lizard on a Rapala Tail Dancer. Now we know that walters start lookin’ zandery at the 14.5-lb mark:

Ashley Thomas iced herself a Mille Lacs Lake monster using a hand-poured and painted 3/8-oz Ultra Minnow Jig from Do-It Molds tipped with a shiner:

Andy Walsh road-tripped to Clearwater Lake, Manitoba in search of a massive lake trout and that’s exactly what he got. Went 42″ x 28″ [!] and inhaled a Northland Bionic Bucktail Jig. Congrats man!

Can’t imagine how loud it got in Zippel Bay Resort’s Igloo Bar when this gator was caught. And yes, that bar is ON THE ICE at Lake of the Woods — big screen TV, full bar, food menu and they catch some g-g-g-GIANTS out of it:

Jason Mitchell: Tips to catch more mid-winter panfish.

Anyone else looking forward to chasing late-ice panfish? Things can feed like piranhas once the melt begins. Right now — during what we like to call the “dog days” of winter — it’s a whole different story. Here’s 5 quick tips from Jason Mitchell’s Walleye Central post that he uses to help ice fussy panfish:

1. Drop down to lighter line.

> 4-lb test combined with the weight of tungsten can shine at early and late ice but when the bite gets tougher, you’ll be amazed how many more fish can be caught by dropping down to fresh 2-lb test.

2. Master the subtle quiver.

> When fishing gets tough, the most delicate and subtle quiver often triggers bites. The right quiver creates a soft vibration on the jig and tail but the jig basically stays in one place. Use a spring bobber or sanded glass tip for mastering this quiver.

3. Spooler reels.

> …like Clam’s Ice Spooler Elite enable ice anglers to present a jig with little or no twist or turn as the jig hangs in the water. The less you have to do to trigger a bite, the more this type of a reel can increase your success on a tough bite.

4. Experiment with vertical jigs.

> …like Clam Pro Tackle Maggot Drop. Soft plastics can be hooked to hang horizontally but vertical jigs move less water and have less of a profile which shines on a tough bite. Remember that panfish often rise up to the jig and when looking from below, vertical jigs look much smaller than a horizontal jig.

5. Force yourself to fish fresh ice.

> …in many [community holes] fish have already been caught so the [ones] that are left aren’t competing against as many fish. If you can force yourself to explore some new locations and find new fish that haven’t been pressured, you’re going to catch more and bigger fish.

They can’t all be giants….

We share a lot of pics of ridiculously-oversized fish, but gotta give some love to the little buggers that reeeeally test your bite-detection abilities…like this one celebrated by Eric Mathes:

Drastic measure to keep bait alive.

Can be tough to find good (or any) bait this time of year…so it’s important to protect what ya got:


1. MN: Walleye season sort of closes Sunday.

For the majority of the state, BUT not Lake of the Woods. Being a border water up der to da north, they have some special extended seasons:

> Fish houses can be on ice through Mar 31st…walleyes and saugers open through Apr 14…pike open all year!

Sitting on dang near 5′ of ice right now, so it’s not going away anytime soon. Might be one of those years where you can both ice fish and fish out of a boat (on the Rainy River) in the same weekend — doesn’t get much better than that!

2. ND: Devils Lake benefit tourney.

Happening Mar 2nd outta Woodland Resort:

> “All proceeds benefit Wounded Warriors Guide Service, a 501C3 non-profit organization helping injured veterans experience the outdoors” #Stout

3. New Clam tungsten open-water jigs.

Tungsten’s all the rage on ice and now Clam is bringing it to the open-water. The new Drop Tg jig has a smaller profile and higher sensitivity than lead:

4. MN: MLFAC vs DNR…round 147.

Guess the Mille Lacs Lake Fishery Advisory Committee (MLFAC) isn’t happy with the outside panel review of DNR data on Mille Lacs Lake…though not sure the two sides will ever completely agree?

5. Is the Tak Logic “Lure Lock” magic?

> …placed a proprietary gel into the bottom of the trays, which secures hooks, terminal tackle and lures…prevents them from jostling around during travel…just place your tackle on the gel…even when boxes are turned upside down or shaken, tackle stays perfectly in place.

Will be able to buy the magical gel insert separately too if you wanna add it to the boxes you already have.

6. MN: Walleye fishin’ workshop Mar 17….

…at the Cabela’s in Rogers. Learn up from walleye pro Brian Bashore.

7. Honda redesigned some outboards.

BF200, BF225 and BF250:

8. Garmin pursuing connected gadget direction too.

Also, Q4 revenue was up 24% in marine.

9. Pursuit Channel getting Nielsen rated.

10. LA: Legislator wants bounty program for Asian carp.

11. Why all the hate on Asian carp.

> “…are filter feeders, with long gillrakers to strain zooplankton, which is the same food young gamefish eat before switching to minnows and shad. The more these fish become established, the more they have the capability to outcompete native species.”

12. Non-native shrimp expanding in Great Lakes.

Tip of the Day

It’s flag season, and Matt Breuer of Northcountry Guide Service was kind enough to share some tricks he’s picked up over the years. Lots more info in the full OutdoorHub write-up here, few excerpts below.

> After drilling all of my tip-up holes, I’ll walk hole-to-hole with my Vexilar and scribble the depth of each hole in the snow with my finger or rod tip. That way I know the exact depth of each hole when I go to reset lines.

> …buy some dacron that’s the opposite color from what you’ve got spooled up, and learn how to tie a bobber-stop knot. Tying a visible marker on your line will save you a lot of time when resetting your line to the proper depth.

> Put line-counter reels on all of your rods set up on Arctic Warriors. If I’m fishing lake trout in 80′ and I want my cisco to hang 24′ down, I either need to: guess…use my Vexilar every time I re-bait or check that hole…or use a line-counter and let out 24′ of line.

> Line counters are an incredible time saver — teamed with a high-quality rod and an Arctic Warrior Tip Up, you can’t go wrong. An inexpensive Okuma Magda Pro will get the job done, and if you utilize these types of tip-ups, you’ll be happy you spent the extra money.

Quote of the Day

Must be nice to have a job where you get to fish every day.

– A line fishing guides probably hear on the daily…but reality is not so much.

This Brad Dokken write-up gives a pretty cool behind-the-scenes look at the life of a fishing guide…which is usually their second job.

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Seriously incredible sunrise snap from John Hoyer. Those Clam Leech Flutter Spoons aren’t just for walleyes:

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