When most people think about using plastics for ice fishing they think of very small slivers of plastic, threaded on a tiny jig and used to finesse picky panfish into biting. After all, the reason our B-Y Baits lineup is so small is because that’s what works in winter. During this time of year fish of all sizes will take advantage of an easy meal no matter how small the offering. Over the past couple years we have iced everything from panfish to some very respectable gamefish using nothing more than a small tungsten jig and one of our plastics. We have caught bass up to 22”, walleye up to 30” and many pike in the low to mid thirties on this presentation.
What we want to share with you today is a larger, more aggressive presentation that can be an effective tool at targeting not only the larger panfish, but gamefish as well. The presentation we will be discussing is using a B-Y Baits plastic on the treble hook below a heavy spoon. Most people will tip their spoon with a minnow head or a few spikes/waxworms and have success, but what if you could have that same success and not have to dig back in the minnow bucket or tin of waxies to rebait after every fish that was caught or missed? This past weekend we saw firsthand what our plastics can do when used in place of this common live bait presentation.
Last week we made a trip to one of the most northern counties in Wisconsin to fish some of the clear natural lakes in the area. Many of the lakes we planned to fish we had never stepped foot on before, so each lake we visited we started off by drilling a lot of holes and searching for fish. What we found were lots of green weeds even out to depths of over 20ft of water. Due to less snowcover than average and seepage-type, clear lakes, most of the weeds in these bodies of water were still healthy and holding fish. The problem is with all the weeds still alive, there wasn’t much concentrating the fish that were still using them for cover.
Back home in central Wisconsin we fish a lot of flowages and river systems that have very stained water, so bright colored baits and spoons like the Buckshot Rattle Spoon are key to calling fish in to your presentation. We have used a heavy spoon in combination with our SuperMinnow in the past as a search lure. The advantages of doing this are you can quickly see if anything is in the area and fish holes fast because of the weight of the lure. After we punch out a series of holes it is nice to hop around with only your flasher and pole to find where there are active fish. The heavy spoon can be dropped through the slush without even having to clean your hole, so an ice scoop isn’t even needed. In the past once we had a few good marks check out our bait, we would clean the hole out and set up to finesse these fish with a tungsten jig and B-Y plastic.
Generally, we might catch one or two aggressive fish on the spoon/SuperMinnow we were using as a search lure, but would have to downsize to the smaller jig and plastic to catch the pickier members of the school. This was not the case up north this past week. It was cool to see that even though the fish were in a little bit of a negative mood due to the cold front conditions, they would still come in and smash the spoon presentation. You could really tell the whole attitude of these fish would change once they locked onto this larger presentation. Instead of tactfully trying to detect a finesse bite with your spring bobber, fish were coming up and hitting the spoon with full force. Sometimes they came up so fast it was difficult to reel up enough to get a good hookset. Perch and crappies especially like this setup but we also caught some nice bass and northern as well. The other thing this setup helped with was keeping the small gills away so we could work for those nicer perch and crappies. Because the fish could see the bright colors so well in the clear water, many times we would only have the fish on our screen for a split second as they raced in to smack our jigging spoons.
It is amazing the amount of action that plastic has when swinging freely below a heavy spoon. The weight of the spoon really whips it around and even a subtle vibration of the rod will make that plastic dance. Before you drop down the first time, play with this presentation in your hole so you get a feel for how hard and long of jig strokes you need to make to get the optimal movement. You can get pretty aggressive with the spoon in order to draw fish in, but once they are locked on, a light jigging stroke while slowly raising the presentation is what triggers the strikes. It seemed the fish didn’t want the plastic wildly swinging from side to side when they hit, it was often a subtle vibration of the pole to put just a little movement in the plastic and activate the rattles in the spoon.
Let me wrap-up by saying this is not a presentation you are going to go to the water with day in and day out and ice a pile of fish. This is more for when targeting the bigger, more aggressive fish and when trying to keep those pesky dink gills away. I mainly focused on the SuperMinnow because that’s what we had great luck with last week, but really any of our plastics will work. We know people that use our smaller baits below panfish spoons like the little cecil with great success. Leave the live bait at home and give this presentation a try, we think you will be surprised the reaction you get once you locate some quality fish!
- Darrin Anderson