Target Walleye/Ice email

Fooling smart panfish, Why black spots on fish, Insane auger

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Today’s Top 4

WTHeck are those “black spots” on bluegills?

Ice Team pro Jason Durham explains what they are and if they are okay to eat:


Joel Nelson: Jigging tips for big, smart panfish.

Each fish has its own mood and personality…especially BIG bluegills and crappies. Joel Nelson obsesses over watching his flasher to see how they’re reacting to his bait and changes his jigging cadence accordingly. You’ll wanna read the full breakdown in this OutdoorHub write-up, few golden nuggets below:


> If you’re learning to jig them into submission during mid-winter, your best bet is to focus on the 3rd or 4th day of consistent weather, and a stable or falling barometer…[during] low-light periods.

> Focus on slowly dropping your bait into a school of fish on a slack line. Are they rising to meet it, or spooking in a refusal to eat? Some baits simply drop better than others, so watch your bait for the first few feet to see what it looks like. Hopefully there’s no spin and the fall looks natural.

> Spinning reels and finicky gills have single-handedly brought upon the heavy selection of in-line or straight-line reels these days, which allow line to be evenly placed on a spool without line twist.

> The next drop: Try an artificial…on a tight line as you steadily control the bait’s fall until just above them — sneak it in — then start jigging. Focus on initial reactions from your flasher. Does an aggressive lift draw them closer, or does a more subtle jigging stroke tickle their fancy?

> Technical gill bites are cause for a 2-step process that I like to call “lock-down” and “lift.” I palm the reel, placing the rig on my thigh or hip while kneeling on the ice. This settles and steadies my hand, allowing for [fine-tuned] movements.

> …tap the rod blank with a forefinger to attract, then squeeze the rod handle in quick but subtle bursts to get the fish to commit. As reluctant fish close (or retreat) I start a slow but steady lift to hit the reset button.

> Each jig fishes differently based on design. These are general starting points from which to form your own opinions and best-practices, but keep them in mind next time you tackle a tough gill bite for which there seems no remedy.


> Crappies are easy pickings (by comparison) for much of the ice season…they suspend over deeper water, giving our sonar cones a chance to grow in diameter and scan a larger underwater area.

> Bigger crappies, however, are often found in weeds or roaming edges instead of basins…often jig up like a less-eager walleye.

> …control of the jig is made difficult by deep water and small jig sizes. On light bites (I’ll use) a stiffer-than-normal noodle style rod — when fish are a bit more willing to chew, I’ll use a stronger power and faster-action rod for better control.

> …bigger fish in the school [are usually] either feeding high…or sitting [below the little ones] in the water column. Fish fast with heavier tungsten or spoons to blow past the little guys, but still stay above the better fish. Crappies seem more unwilling to follow a bait down…unlike bluegills and perch.

> The up-down keep-away game works with the most aggressive crappies…you’ll need to keep the bait quiet for really tough customers. The “lock-down” method works great as a fish really studies your bait…with crappies being notoriously light biters.

> What you may misinterpret as a simple shake from your hand may actually be a crappie sucking in the bait and quickly pushing it back out.

> I like to focus on being still or at least very subtly controlled when jigging as a crappie approaches, knowing that my ability to detect its strike is as difficult often as simply getting the fish to commit.

Keep reading here.

Betcha can’t drill 3 holes quicker than this guy.

As seen at the Ice Auger World Championship in Breezy Point, MN

Would love to see the shrapnel fly with an 8″ bit!

Mustangs switching to Mercury motors?

Not all boating accidents happen on the water…. Word is everyone was okay, but probably a little disgruntled:

Check your policies on what is and isn’t covered.


1. VT: 82yo man found…

…outside his fish house, had passed on. RIP fishing brother. Seems like he went out doing what he loved….

2. MN: Hey Lake of the Woods peeps.

Had a TWI fan lose his Humminbird ICE 55 flasher (and entire tackle bag) during the ride in from reefs on Lake of the Woods:

> On the marked snowmobile trail, we rode from Knight/Bridges back to the river just after dark Saturday night.

Got it laying around in the “lost and found?” Let us know and we’ll connect you.

The good news: Curt Holt made the best of the situation, tied on an old 3/8-oz jig he had rolling around in his bucket for a couple of years, and cracked a Rainy River slaunch that broke the magical 30″ mark. #Stout

3. MN: New pike regs coming on “opener.”

> “The intent of the new reg, spread over 3 northern pike ‘zones,’ is to reduce the number of small ‘hammer-handle’ northerns that infest too many state lakes.”
  • North-central: Limit of 10. No more than 2 longer than 26″ and all from 22-26″ must be released.
  • Northeast: Limit of 2. Must release all from 30-40″, with only 1 over 40″ allowed in possession.
  • South: Limit of 2. Minimum size is 24″.

4. Lund now making composite transoms.

New High-Density Performance (HDP) composite transoms are a rot-proof [!] alternative to marine plywood. Also stronger, stiffer and lighter. #Jackpot

5. IL: MWC kicks off Mar 23-24.

On the Illinois River at Spring Valley. Considered “one of the continent’s top sauger fisheries” but also have a chance at some fatty walters.

6. OH: Discount cards for fisher-people…

…that visit for the Sandusky River walleye run. Just need a valid fishing license to use the cards at local businesses. Cool idea.

7. WWA Fox Chain tourney coming up Apr 15.

That’s the World Walleye Association. Got their new Pro-Tournament H2 Scale dialed-in and are letting you add 1 kicker squirrel to your bag this year:

8. Rigging an Aqua-Vu on your boat (video).

9. FishUSA flash sale on Water Puppets!

Those fishy Someday Isle Tackle Water Puppets are buy 2 get 1 free until 11:59 pm EST tonight. Here’s how Brent Long rigs/fishes ’em:

10. MN: Lake of the Woods pike bite is going.

We’ll have more on the how-to portion of that later….

11. Ever seen these?

Called FishEng Leader Boards. Tried ’em out last fall for redtail/creek chub rigs and they worked slick…plus no cardboard cuts (lol). Here’s one decked-out with some pre-rigged Moonshine Shiver Minnows:

12. New Honda EU2200 generator.

Supposed to have enough juice to power the A/C in permanent fish houses, yet weighs 90-lbs less than the beefy-cake EU3000 (46.5 lbs).

Couple other changes: increased ventilation, a fuel-shutoff valve and is designed for much easier/cleaner oil changes. Nice thing about that fuel-shutoff valve:

> …allows the engine to continue to run until the majority of the fuel in the carburetor is consumed and the engine shuts off…helps prevent stale fuel issues and is useful for storing the generator.

No matter what type of power-wagon you’re running, adding a shot of Sea Foam will help keep it running smooth. Especially stuff that sits around between uses.

13. SD: Muskies now catch-and-release only.

14. UT: New catch-and-release record splake.

Hybrid lake trout + brook trout. Buckely Jolley (awesome fishing name) plucked the 30.5-incher outta Joes Valley Reservoir.

15. Careco working with someone else for airtime sales.

16. TWI survey giveaway winner was…

Mark H[removed] from Lakeville, MN who will be getting a pile of ice-fishing lures from Lunkerhunt. Thanks ALL for the great input!

Tip of the Day

Breaks it down into smaller areas the size of a football field and heads to flats first because fish are there to eat. Drills holes every 100-200′ then fine tunes ’em from there if he starts finding fish.

Says to drop flashy spoons down first and jig right under the ice to draw them in…only need one perch to give up the school:

Quote of the Day

These guys got lessons from Al Lindner on how to hold fish.

– Hilarious comment from Rodney Morris on this FB post of 16 fish that went 30″ or better — in a single week [!] — while fishing with the Blackwater Cats Outfitter crew on Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. Serious amounts of WHOA:

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

Heard of fish “waving goodbye” but this pike was more of the smell-ya-later type! Sick shot from Casey Breeds:

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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
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