Sunday, January 29, 2012

How to catch Trout with the Automatic Fisherman

During a recent outing in Sheboygan Harbor, Keri Solis with Bear Solis Outdoors stopped out and took a quick video of me demonstrating how to use the Automatic Fisherman for Trout, and also how to rig your pole, what to use for bait, and how the Automatic Fisherman works.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Sheboygan Ice Fishing Derby Results

Despite morning temperatures hovering around 0° and forecasted highs in the teens, 14 of us showed up hoping to land the biggest Trout and win the Derby.  Fishing conditions for the elusive Great Lakes Trout couldn't have been much worse, considering a low pressure system had moved through the day before and high pressure set in overnight, bringing clear skies and frigid temps.

Derek, Tim, and I spent the day Friday scouting out the harbor and found that the fish were scattered all over!  We managed 4 Rainbow Trout and 1 Brown Trout in 3 hours on the ice!  We all figured that the derby would be phenomenal after the day we had with only 9 lines! 

Derek and I arrived at the harbor at 5:30 to begin drilling the holes for the day, hoping that doing all the drilling before the sun came up wouldn't spook the Trout as much as if everyone drilled their own holes upon arrival.  Our plan didn't appear to work, as the first couple hours of daylight were slow for everyone.

At around 9:30, Brett's flag popped up on his tip up rigged with a Medium Shiner.  Everyone, including myself, figured he had a Pike on, since we had already caught a couple small Pike on Shiners this winter in the harbor.  After a 10 minute battle with long runs, the fish finally came up through the hole.  Brett had himself a beautiful buck Steelhead!

This was the only action of the morning and proved to be the only Trout caught in the derby!  Even though the fishing wasn't spectacular, everyone still enjoyed themselves on the ice, playing football, drinking beer, and eating Venison.

A few things I have learned from the derby:

1. Trout are extremely spooky, we would've been better off drilling half the holes and probably would've had more action.

2. Trout fishing is best when the barometric pressure is falling or already low. 

3. Trout change what they want to bite on a daily basis, so be prepared to try a little of everything on any given day.

4. You don't have to catch lots of fish to have an enjoyable day on the ice with friends.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sheboygan Harbor Trout 1/14/11

Derek and I spent this past Saturday braving the cold weather in hopes of catching a few Trout through the ice.  Despite temperatures in the low teens and a bit of a brisk west wind, we headed out to see what the day would bring.  It didn't take long for the fish to respond!  After setting our last tipup at 7:15, Derek got bit on his jig pole!

The fish went nuts and did some barrel rolls under the ice, causing the line to tangle around the fish.  Derek brought the fish to the hole, but it was sideways, so he let the fish back down the hole to hopefully untangle itself.  Well, that is exactly what it did!  As soon as it went down the hole we watched through the 1/2" of ice as the Buck Steelhead barrel rolled again and promptly spit the hook!

We were both just looked at each other in disappointment!  Oh well, it was back to jigging, hoping to have another chance at landing a Trout.  About an hour later Derek's Automatic Fisherman popped, and fortunately for us, the rod began bouncing!  After a five minute battle, Derek landed his first Steelhead through the ice, a nice 7 pound hen!

The fish was full of Skein, which we cut out and used as bait.  About an hour after rigging a couple tipups with Skein, we had another flag!  This time it was on Derek's old Beaver Dam tipup.  The fish completely inhaled the Skein and was slowly taking line as we reached the tipup.  Another intense 5 minute battle resulted in a nice 5 pound buck Steelhead!

The action for Derek had been great up to this point, but I was starting to wonder when my luck would change!  I moved one of my Automatic Fishermen to a different hole, and within 20 minutes it went off!  Derek and I were quite a ways down the dock from the Auto, so it was a mad dash to the Auto!  Luckily the fish was still on by the time I got there, and I was able to land another beautiful hen Steelhead!

Another two hours passed without any action when my other Automatic Fisherman popped!  This time we were able to take a quick video of the fight!  After a 5 minute fight I landed a 5 pound buck Brown Trout, which would be the last of our action for the day.

It sure felt good to get back on the ice and tangle with a few of our Great Lakes Trout, I can't wait to get out and catch some more soon!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ice Fishing for Great Lakes Trout

Catching a 10+ pound Trout through a small hole in the ice is an experience unlike anything else in the Midwest!  Many people think that catching a 40" Northern Pike through the ice is the ultimate fight on ice, well I beg to differ!  Trout in cold water have more energy and fight in them than any 40" Pike or 10 pound Walleye!

There are many ways to catch Great Lakes Trout in the winter months, including Spawn Sacs, Skien, Minnows, Plastics, Wax Worms, Flies, Shrimp, and even Squid!  The way in which you present your bait to the Trout is as important as what you choose to use as bait!

Trout are a finicky fish, and will show a preference in a certain bait on any given day.  You can catch 10 Trout today on spawn sacs, and tomorrow those same fish in that same spot won't even touch your spawn sacs, but may attack a minnow or wax worm!

This inconsistent personality of our Great Lakes Trout make them a challenge to put on the ice consistently, making an anglers attention to detail the crucial factor in changing a slow day into a productive one.

When it comes to setting tip ups for Trout, I recommend the Automatic Fisherman in the 33" model, which is an ice fishing pole on a base that allows the angler to set the rod and allow the fish to take a preset amount of line before the hook is set on the fish.  Trout are very sensitive to the slightest resistance, which is why the Automatic Fisherman is geared with a bobber that balances the weight of the lure so the Trout never feels the resistance of the tip up.

When using the Automatic Fisherman, I like to rig the reel with 8 pound Berkley Sensation or 8 pound Power Pro.  I then like to tie a barrel swivel on to my main line and then an 18-24" leader of 6 pound fluorocarbon.  When using spawn or skein for bait I like to use a #6 Gamakatsu Egg Hook, but when using minnows or shrimp I like to use a #12 Treble Hook.

When using standard tip ups for Trout, you can use the same basic rig, except the main line can be either a Dacron line or a superline like Fireline.  Tie your 6 pound fluorocarbon 18-24" leader to a barrel swivel and then to the main line.  When setting the tip up, make sure to set it as light as possible, so that the flag will pop when the fish touches your bait.  This will make it less likely for the Trout to sense any resistance. 

When jigging for Trout, there are many tactics that will work, but I have had the most success with a simple jig and Wax Worms.  Swedish Pimples with minnow heads or Wax Worms can also work well at times.  You can also jig with a spawn sac, tubes, or even Jigging Rapalas. 

A camera or flasher are helpful when jigging for Trout, since they allow you to see how the fish react to your presentation.  If you have a fish come in to your bait but not bite, you may want to change or jigging action the next time a fish shows up on your screen.  The camera is nice because you can see what type of fish is present, and how they are acting.

Since Trout are a challenging fish to catch through the ice, I like to plan my trips around the weather.  When the barometer is falling, the fish are usually biting, and when a cold front passes and its 10° and sunny, the fish are usually really negative and inactive.  I also make sure that I am on the ice when its dark in the morning drilling holes and preparing for the day, so that when it comes time to fish, I am fishing that first hour of light quietly, since that is usually the most active time for Trout. 

Another mistake many first time Trout seekers make is horsing these fish in before they are ready.  The average fight time on a Trout can be 5-10 minutes, with the big ones taking up to 20 minutes to land!  There is no need to horse them in, once they are hooked you should enjoy the fight, set your drag properly and pay close attention to your line so that it doesn't get caught on the edge of the hole.

When landing a Trout for someone without a gaff, use two hands and grab behind the gills and pull.  Make sure that you don't grab the line, as doing this may cause the hook to pop out and the fish to escape back down the hole.  Don't get frustrated, it may take 3 or more tries to get the fish on the ice!

These are just a few general guidelines that should help you put a few Trout on the ice this season, I hope they come in handy for you on your next Trout fishing outing!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Years

Happy New Years everyone!

Wishing everyone a successful 2012 doing whatever you makes you happy! 

This is the first year that I can remember not making it out on the ice before the new year!  Hopefully mother nature will send some arctic air our way for a week or two to get some ice on our lakes and rivers!  Expect to see some ice fishing reports soon, as I hope to be getting out as often as possible in the next month or two!