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Fishing Midwest

John Peterson with a nice mid-winter walleye.

In many areas where anglers fish through the ice this time of year, we are at about the midway part of the season. Most lakes have a good cover of ice as well as some snow. We also have cold weather, lots of it. There are a number of things we can do to catch more fish through the ice this time of year, but you’ve got to go fishing to catch ’em.

That sounds pretty simplistic, but consider that getting cold isn’t that much fun for most people so they don’t go fishing when it’s too cold. With today’s clothing options and ice shelters, you don’t need to get cold. Dress appropriately and get out there. Here we go.

Some people like to fish from the warmth of a fish house. We’ve been fishing from Core Ice shelters for the past two years and really like them. They’re lightweight, so they can be easily moved with an ATV. There are lots of options available and you can fish in shirtsleeves. If that’s your style of fishing, wonderful: Enjoy it. If you’ve got a group of fishing partners that you enjoy spending time with, you’re going to have a wonderful day on the ice.

When fishing from a stationary shelter, there will be times when there are no fish present. They often come through in schools. When they come through, you need to be as productive and efficient as possible.

Another thing you need to do is try to attract fish to your area. A good way to do this is “pounding.” Pounding is a technique that many successful anglers use to attract a perch or walleye to their bait. You simply lift and drop your spoon so it “pounds” the bottom. When the spoon hits the bottom, it kicks up a little cloud of dust, and this attracts fish to your spoon. If fish are in the area, eventually they’ll check out your bait.

Once you have some fish below you that are willing to bite, it works well to stop your spoon well above the bottom. Try to determine how far up the fish will come to take your bait. If you drop the spoon all the way to the bottom into a bunch of fish and catch a couple of fish from that group, the others will spook. If you keep the spoon above the fish and catch the ones that move up to it, the others won’t spook as quickly. You’ll catch more fish per hole.

When the bite is on, you want to fish fast. Catch a fish and get your bait back down there while they’re still around and willing to bite. Impulse plastic baits added to a jig or spoon enable you to fish faster because you’re not re-baiting as much as you would with live bait.

Ice fishing season is in full swing across the ice belt. Be safe and have fun on the ice.

Photos: Big fish caught in North Iowa

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