Here’s how Joel Nelson decides if he’s starting shallow or deep when chasing early-ice panfish on a new lake. Oh, and we can’t stand next to a lake for that long without at least making a couple casts:
Got to chattin’ with Joel and found out one of his fav baits for specifically targeting BIG pannies is the “snack size” Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap. That #3 size is brand new this season, but of course he got to use ’em early [insert not-fair, huffy-puffy breath here].
> Weighs just 1/16-oz and has a slightly larger profile than your thumbnail. Said he mostly likes them in mid-range depths, but he’ll fish ’em for suspended fish that are as deep as 15-20′ — or even 25′ — to pluck the biggest fish from the school.
> Also fishes ’em on the edges of the weeds using the rattles to draw fish in.
> Use a fairly stout rod with an extra-fast tip (vs a noodle rod) for better control. Gotta remember: It’s still a hard bait, so you need to drive the hooks home.
Here’s the one Joel tried to steal outta my (Brett) box:
Guess that “pink tiger UV” is tough to come by: Rapala’s website is out of stock and looks like FishUSA only has a couple left (for now). More info soon-ish.