Target Walleye/Ice email

Flasher cam jigging trick, Hoyer’s early ice bluegill spots, Rattlebait chubby crappies

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Today’s Top 5
How John Hoyer tracks down trophy bluegills – RIGHT NOW.
First ice might be your best opportunity of the year to catch truly huuuuge bluegills. Here’s how (and where!) big-fish junkie John Hoyer targets ’em when things lock up, and it’s likely not where you’d think. Full write-up on, few excerpts below:
Most folks zip straight off to the weeds…while Hoyer runs with the bulls in 15-30′, focusing on soft-bottom basins that flatten out at the base of a saddle or shelf:

> Hoyer: “They’re out on deep flats that have bug life going on — especially the trophy-sized fish. They’re following the food and not really holding to structure.”

When drilling holes, he starts in deep water at the base of a drop-off and moves OUT from there.

Bluegills are picky when a lake first caps. Hoyer says, “they’re crabby” and “it takes a week-ish for them to adjust to it.” When fish start actively feeding again, time of day is crucial:

> “Big bluegills will shut off completely for long stretches – you have to hit the feeding windows, which are usually at first light and then dusk into nightfall.”

Says you can NOT rule out a lake for big ‘gills until you’ve spent time trying to locate fish at lowlight dusk. He’s also a big believer in overcast days with a falling barometer = fish are more likely to feed all day:

> “That’s when we’ll make a long run to a known trophy lake. Other than that, it’s basically the 2 feeding windows.”

Keep reading the full write-up here.

Invasives can slow walleye growth up to 14%?
That’s according to this study talkin’ zebra mussels and spiny water fleas:

> “Both invaders reduce lake levels of zooplankton, an important food source for young walleye. Zebra mussels act as filters, reducing the amount of algae in the water…a food source for zooplankton. Spiny water flea eat zooplankton directly.”

Makes total sense (to me) that the little’uns would have a harder time putting together a meal…but I really wouldn’t think invasives are slowing the growth of adult fish, too? Maybe. Who knows? I don’t.

Oddly enough, I have noticed that the fishing seems to be getting BETTER on a lot of these lakes infested with zeebz and whatnot. That being said…

…zeebz come in and change the whole ecosystem of the lake. “My grandpa used to catch ’em here” will only work for so long – fish aren’t going to be in the same spots they used to be. That goes for whether you’re trying to catch ’em with a rod, or survey ’em with a net or trap.

Why? Zeebz filter the water, which increases water clarity and allows vegetation to grow deeper. So the fish are typically moving deeper — or sometimes pushing WAY up farther, burying in the weeds — and so should you. Clearer water can also make fish “more smarter.”

Okay, now I’m getting waaaay off topic compared to the original write-up. Just some random somewhat-related thoughts I felt like spewin’…. Take ’em for what it’s worth, which isn’t much! Lol.

Love me some unusual fish!
Here’s a couple you don’t see every day — or ever?

Cheeseheads aren’t the only thing WI grows… Check out this wild perch Lyle Chapman caught and posted in the Ice Junkies Outdoors Facebook group:

Mike Frisch is out on Upper Red Lake filming an episode of Fishing The Midwest TV right now. Caught a walleye they named “The Humpback of Red Lake” working a Clam Tikka Mino in 12′. Said they found 8-10″ of good ice and a strong bite out on Center Bar…humpback strong!

Heard that fish spent too many hours hunched over a keyboard typing Target Walleye emails…. 🤣 Thx man!
Gravel lizards are chewin’!
Feel like I’ve been sorta lacking on the big-fish pics, so here you go!

Ashley Rae (@shelovestofish) is setting the stage with 300 ponies and 1 big mule! Stuck her biggest ‘eye of the season — 30.5″ and 11.5 lbs — trolling a #11 Berkley Flicker Minnow on the Bay of Quinte. She said, “these fish make the 4am alarms worth waking up for.” No doubt!

Another double-digit Bay of Quinte giant! Mavric Parks had this one T-bone his Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow Walleye Deep Diver in the “purple wonderbread” color:
Looks like Ryan Busche has his priorities straight:

> “When it’s mid-50s in December you take advantage.”

Shot him a message to get the scoop on how he’s catching ’em, but he’s behind the wheel (of his boat!) right now and will get back to me. #Diehard!

The Elliott Evolution Series 44-L isn’t just for perch-jerkin’…. Cody Krug got himself this Devils Lake, ND chunk danglin’ a PK Lures Tungsten Predator Spoon:
Heck of a fish, man! As his buds at Team Yukon Outdoors said, it looks like it’s still eating Thanksgiving leftovers….
Simple trick to make fussy walleyes bite (flasher cam!)
Sometimes you’ve gotta stoop to their level and frustrate ’em into biting!

Doesn’t matter if you’re ice fishing with rattlebaits or jigging spoons…this fun little trick can help turn sniffers into biters:

That Vexilar FLX-28 is a nasty unit! If you know, you know…. #Crisp!

BONUS: This tip isn’t just for walleyes. Works well for jumbo perch, and I even do the same type of thing in the middle of the water column for suspended crappies….

1. Ron Lindner’s celebration of life.

Lindner’s Angling Edge was gracious enough to livestream Ron Lindner’s Celebration of Life for those that weren’t able to attend. They just uploaded a new version with better audio than the original.

I was there in person, but had to go back and watch Ron’s military honors (1:36:08) again. Get goosebumps every time.

RIP brother. And thank YOU for making us all better people, let alone better fishermen/women.
2. Kavajecz was voted off The Next Bite TV island.

Survivor style, torches and all….

I’m 100% kidding of course!

But Keith has decided to take a different path…sounds like one that involves a lot more fun fishing — dude flat-out just LOVES to fish. More from Keith:

> As many of you saw in The Next Bite TV show opening for this year, I am no longer a host of the show. There were no disagreements, no blowups and no bad feelings amongst the owners of TNB. This is just something I always planned to do. I am not retiring from professional fishing!

> Gary, Chase, Kemos and I will still be working together fishing NWT tournaments, we are still great friends. I am also fishing the AIM Wisconsin events as I have done the past few years with my sons.

> I was involved with 16 seasons of TNB and over 200 shows. What most people don’t realize is that there is a lot of behind the scenes work that has to be done to produce the kind of show we did — time I’d rather spend fishing.

> I will still be part of TNB, maybe as a guest — maybe do some tip segments — and as always “I’ll keep you informed on what’s happening, on my Facebook page and The Next Bite Facebook page” 😎

And here’s Gary Parsons talkin’ at ya from the heart:

3. How spiny water fleas are mauling the Great Lakes.

> Daphnia [are]…tiny animals are critical to lake health: Besides providing food for fish, they graze on floating algae, beating their legs constantly to create microcurrents that pull the algae toward their miniature maws. By keeping algae in check, Daphnia help keep the system in balance.

> But Daphnia are declining in Lake Superior and nearly every other body of water in the Great Lakes region…decimated by…invasive predator, the spiny water flea.

> …populations of native plankton in some of MN’s lakes have fallen by as much as 60% since the arrival of the spiny water flea. The plankton die-off in turn has affected yellow perch, walleye, and other native gamefish.

> Fish in lakes invaded by the spiny water flea grow more slowly during their first year of life, which makes them more vulnerable to predators.

4. Lovin’ the color selection…

…on these ACME Kastmaster Tungsten DR Spoons. Not positive, but believe they may be FishUSA exclusives ‘cuz I hadn’t seen ’em before. ESPECIALLY digging that “glow hulk” color on the top-left:

5. SK: “Walleye Wars IV” happenin’ Jan 15-31.

Longest ‘eye caught wins $5K. Top 10 spots are also paid + a $1K lottery draw if you only catch small ones lol.

6. Brunswick has a new director of electrification position.

And no, I did not make up that word lol. Sounds like it has something to do with making boats more electronics/systems friendly. Brunswick owns Lund and Mercury among other brands.

7. Inside look at the new 24′ Yetti Grand Escape.

Roast those chestnuts by a fish-house safe fire!

8. Buck has a hunting knife sale going on.

9. Ice Defense Pro Series comes with…

…EVERYTHING you need to transform it from a flasher-mounted system to an Ice Defense for your tip-ups and setlines:

> Just strap it to an extra flasher battery with the included strap, hook up the power cable and you never have to worry about your setlines freezing again!

Yup, I’m gonna have to try that. Tip-ups freezing into the ice are the biggest reason I don’t run one on frigid days, which means I’m catching half the fish I could be.
> LiveScope is cheating, Ron Lindner tribute, Augers getting lighter

> We lost Ron Lindner

> Special Holiday Issue: Gotta have ice fishing stuff!

Note: The FishUSA links in this email are affiliate links, meaning if you go through them to make a purchase we might earn a commission…at no cost to you. Click here if you want to learn a little more about links in TW. 

Tip of the Day
How to catch the chubbiest crappies from a school.

No doubt lipless cranks are all the rage when it comes to catching mondo walleyes through the ice, but you might wanna consider playing with ’em for BIG crappies too…. Few tips below on how HSM Outdoors’ Chad Peterson sniffs out the chubbiest specks from the batch:

> During the ice season, you will have opportunities when the crappies are riding high in the water column (especially on overcast days!) when you see that, you better break out the Chubby Darter. The crappies are normally feeding and are very aggressive, as the slow wobble of the Darter approaches the target zone.

> Sometimes you won’t make it to the targeted zone, because they will have raced up to the lure — those are the best bites and normally the bigger, more-aggressive fish of the school. So, where do we look?

> …deep breaklines or over the deeper basins are the high-percent areas to find schools of crappies. Just scouting these areas will provide good opportunities to see high-riding crappies that are easy to graph…typically it’s bluegills that are near the bottom. If you’re not marking fish — keep moving and drilling!

> Other overlooked areas include shallow flats with weed patches where crappies and bluegills like to hold, and feed. …I’m typically looking for 7-13′ depending on the water clarity.

> Your approach should be a little different when using the Chubby Darter in the shallows…try fishing it just 2-3′ below the ice for those aggressive up-feeders. One of my favorite parts about this shallow-water bite is you can often sight-fish them and see how they react to the action of the Darter.

The Salmo Chubby Darter is no secret — invented in 2002 and has been harassing fish for 18+ years now. But if you haven’t heard, they dropped 6 new fish-sexy colors last ice season:

Quote of the Day
“We don’t mind the fishing reports, but let’s reserve 911 for emergencies.”
– That’s the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office in northern MN, which has been getting a huge number of folks unintentionally butt-dialing 911 from Upper Red Lake.

> “Crouching over an ice hole with your phone in your pocket can press the magic call 911 buttons.”

> Some smartphones have an emergency SOS feature that if you press a button enough times, it’ll automatically call 911. For iPhones, it’ll call 911 if you rapidly press the side button 5 times.

And here I thought they were being called for all the “generous” holds I’m seeing in folks’ pics on social media lol:

Today’s ‘Eye Candy

How about Karlee Tower rockin’ the new StrikeMaster Allie Jacket and Bibs specifically designed for you ladies?! 🔥 She whacked this behemoth on her 2B “Select Series” Ultimate Nood rod while chasing schools of crappies around the edge of an expansive basin:

Those 2B ICE rods are legit. Another gem brand under Paul and Gregg Thorne’s Two Brothers Innovations.

I just picked up a Mag Lurchin’ for this ice season. It’s a 34″ M fast-action carbon blank, a rod action that I was missing in my lineup as I always tend to go overboard with super-stout whoopin’ sticks. But this rod legit says in the description that it’s great for “average walleyes,” which is what I put topside more often than I’d like to admit lol. Pumped to give it a go on my next trip out.

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