Over the past few seasons, I've grown tired of ice fishing with traditional tip ups. Quite frankly, I find them boring, a bit unsportsmanlike, and no fun when fighting a fish unless it's a real big one. Not much fun to haul out all the gear, live minnows, and heavy gas powered auger required to drill all the holes either.
Since last year, I've switched over to jigging ice fishing rods, possibly having a second set up with a baitrunner reel using various forms of bait depending on the species targeted. They easily fit in my back pack, and give me the versatility I need to switch spots whenever I want to. The constant jigging and adjusting methods keep me occupied, make it more rewarding, and are downright more effective.
With an upcoming week of mid winter vacation for my 3 younger boys, I stocked up online on some Rapala jigging raps for our planned ice fishing marathon. While waiting for them to arrive, I decided to try the last one a had left, after having my W3 cut off by a pike earlier this season.
As the one I have is a lot bigger (W5 or W7, I'm not sure), I headed out to a spot that contains lots of pike and some musky as well. Set up one baitrunner line with 2 big frozen minnows, and my big jiggin rap with a leader ine my jigging ice rod. Fished various depths most of the day, without any hits. Ended up hooking a nice 9-10 inch perch by mid afternoon, so I decided to field test my digital camera I just got from my wife, as she upgraded to a better model.
Up until this point, I've mainly been using disposable cameras, and developping the films when they are full. Main reason was to avoid my wife's camera stinking like fish slime when I got home. As it's now my dedicated fishing camera, I no longer have that worry.
Back to the field testing... The camera has a timer mode which I decided to try as I was fishing alone. I set it up on my folding char, as I don't have a tripod. After fiddling with it for a few minutes, I figured it out. The first few shots weren't too pretty, my head being cut off in the pics, etc. Finally got this one, my first decent shot.
By this time, the perch was nearly frozen in the cold 25KM/h wind, so I kept it for dinner.
The next day, my jigging raps arrived in the mail. I ordered 3 W2's and 3 W3's. They looked so tempting, I couldn't wait for my kid's winter break to field test them, so I headed off to a spot where I know I'd be able to catch more fish.
Picked a nice day, -6 with low wind. Headed out with only 1 jigging rod and 3 jigging raps. Got to the water, drilled my first hole, tied on a silver W2. Let the tiny jigging rap down, and fish on! Small 5 inch perch, but a good sign that the bite would be on and fishing should be relatively easy.
I drilled about 8 holes over various depths during the next couple hours, catching about 7-8 perch on the silver W2. I then decided to try the fluorescent/gold colored one, no hits in about 45 minutes.
Switched back to the silver Rapala, and started landing fish again. I didn't think that perch could be that finicky, and that a color change would make much of a difference down a 15 feet underthe ice where the water is relatively murky, but it seem to have made all the difference. Ended up catching another few perch, as well as my first crappie on ice.
Eventually, I decided to venture out further for the evening bite, to a spot where I've caught some spring walleyes . Tied on the w3 to give it a shot, as it's considerably bigger than the W2.
Fished it W3 for about 45 minutes, no hits. When I tied on the silver W2 again, I caught another perch within a few minutes. Still no walleyes by 4:30, I started making my way back to the car, jigging the holes I had drilled earlier on as I passed them. The silver w2 jigging rap did it's magic again. Ended up with a nice 9 inch perch, and a small bluegill sunfish back to back while enjoying the sunset.
Total tally for the day was 18 perch between 5-9 inches, 1 crappie and 1 bluegill. Got to field test my new Rapala jigging raps, new digital camera, and last but not least, some home brewed wine that kept me warm, (and stumbling over my feet) all day long. A beautiful day outdoors in the fresh air doing what I loved.
Now that I've got the field testing out of the way and have started to learn what works with the jigging raps, I plan to pass the fun onto my kids during their week off school. Weather permitting, we'll be chasing largemouth bass and rainbow trout up in the mountains. Stay tuned...