The following is a step by step guide to how we go about using our B-Y Baits plastics to put a pile of fish on the ice. Often times after we post a report of a good fishing outing we are asked the same set of questions regarding the where, when and how we made it happen. Well, here it is…
Let me start off by saying we are not fishing guides. We don’t have the luxury of spending every day on the water. We work full time jobs and are weekend fisherman just like most of you. The places we fish are generally determined by the amount of time we have and the weather conditions for that weekend. We don’t get to pick and choose, we just fish when we have the time to do so and try and make the most of it. We have bad days on the water, but more often than not we have good days. What a lot of people don’t understand is the hard work that went into getting that pile of fish in those pictures.
On a typical outing we arrive before the sun comes up. Most times we are the first ones walking off the landing and have dozens of holes punched before anyone else walks out. Since most of our fishing occurs in what we would consider “community holes” it is critical that we arrive before the masses to locate the largest concentration of fish in the area. Once all the people get there it is much harder to do this. Here’s what I feel sets us apart from most. If the fish aren’t there we move. Even if our next spot is a 20 minute drive or half hour walk, we load our stuff up and head to that next spot. To most anglers, the thought of loading all their gear up after only 45 minutes of fishing isn’t something that even crosses their mind. To me, if I have a Saturday to fish I’m going to make the most of it and am not going to sit in a spot with marginal fish activity.
That brings me to my next point. We aren’t happy until we find the so called “mother lode”. We do not sit in a spot and wait for fish to “come through” or “circle around”. No doubt that doing so is an effective method, but the difference can be leaving the ice at the end of the day with a few nice fish or a five gallon pail full of slobs. See, we have caught enough fish that catching a fish here or there doesn’t excite us too much. We are constantly looking for that “holy grail” of fish activity, that spot where the fish are concentrated and feeding heavily. Some days you find it, some days you drill all day looking for it. To me it’s worth looking for because the days you find it are absolutely amazing.
When we put a picture up with a nice pile of fish, very rarely do they come from one area. Often times it took fishing hundreds (not exaggerating) of holes to catch those fish. To give you an idea, if you have used one of those new Jiffy Propane augers you have a good idea of how many holes you can get out of one tank, it is literally hundreds of holes. When my buddy Derek bought his Jiffy Pro4 Lite, the guy at the store told him that one tank lasts him the entire ice season. We joked we should take his back because something has to be wrong with ours after almost burning through two tanks the first day. We have yet to need a 3rd tank on a single day, but it is more common than not that we burn through at least one LP cylinder on one fishing outing. Some days you get lucky and drill your first dozen holes and find them, but most days it is a search and destroy mission where we cover miles of water looking for that honey hole.
When we are still trying to locate active fish I like using what we call a “search bait”. A search bait is simply a presentation meant to draw fish in from a distance so you can “mark” them on your locator. Some of my favorite search baits include a buckshot rattle spoon with a fluorescent orange WaterBug presented horizontally on the treble or a white MegaMudBug on one of the Zebra Stripe tungsten jigs found on our website. The buckshot setup works well because it is heavy and can get through the slush in your hole and to the bottom fast. The other advantage is the internal rattles of this lure can really call fish from a distance. A lot of times the biggest, most aggressive fish in the group will come up and smash that offering, but you will need to switch to a smaller tungsten and plastic setup to fool the rest of the fish in the school. If you have not tried our plastics below a spoon I encourage you to do so because the action is fantastic and sure beats having to reload with a minnow head or waxies after each a fish is caught. The Zebra striped jig works well because it has a flashy “diamond eye” that does a good job of reflecting light. Same story here though, after you catch that first aggressive fish you will usually need to downsize your plastic and/or jig to get the rest of the fish in the school.
Now that you located some fish, are they the “right” fish? By “right” fish I mean, are they just passing through or will they actually come look at your jig? Sometimes the fish you are seeing could be shad or other rough fish that don’t really show much interest in your bait. You don’t necessarily need to find a spot where there are constantly fish below you. What you are looking for is a spot where fish will consistently come in to check out what you just dropped down that hole. I have always said that if you can get this to occur, they can be caught using our plastics.
Now that you have active fish below you, it’s all a matter of finding that magic presentation for that day. Once we find that hole where fish are actively looking at what we drop down we take a seat and break out our B-Y Baits selection. We usually start with a 4mm gold tungsten jig paired with one of our plastics. We try each color/style combination until it gets turned down by a couple fish. Once that occurs we try the next color/style and so on until we have tried everything that we have. If we cycle through everything and still don’t trigger a bite, that’s when we will put on a smaller or different colored jig. We rarely find situations where a 3mm or 4mm gold tungsten won’t work with one of our plastics. You will use far more plastics trying to find the right one for that day. Once you find it you can catch your whole limit on that single plastic. If the fish come up and “sniff” your presentation for several minutes but don’t bite, there is usually something wrong with your setup. The plastic is on crooked, the jig isn’t horizontal enough, your line is spinning, etc. Sometimes they are so picky it can be any number of things. Check out our Tips and Techniques section of the website and it may help you realize something you are not paying close enough attention to. There is a link to this section on the top left of our homepage.
Even after we find a color/style combination that catches a fish we are always trying to fine tune that presentation throughout the day. Many days fish can be caught on a variety of different baits, but we are always trying to find the one that never gets turned down. Often the hot bait will change throughout the day depending on weather changes and light conditions.
Once you find that magic presentation you are golden. There is nothing more fun than hole hopping through a community spot and plucking nice fish right next to people who aren’t getting any bites on their live bait or gaudy competitor plastics. The live bait vs. plastics discussion is a topic I will get into on another day. For now, follow the steps above and you can have fishing outings like you see us put up on our Facebook page!
- Darrin Anderson