Sunday, December 30, 2012

Early Ice Great Lakes Trout

Early ice fishing for Great Lakes Trout is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of the year to target trophy Trout!  There are several factors that make early ice one of the best times of the year to have a chance at that 15+ pound Trout!

For starters, early ice happens to coincide with the Brown Trout spawn.  Browns can spawn from October through March, but the majority of the Browns spawn between mid November and late December in my experiences.  These Trout return to the rivers and harbors that they were planted in as yearlings to spawn.  

Another factor that is special about early ice is the ability to reach areas that you cannot access without either a boat or permission from the landowner.  There are many areas in harbors and rivers that can now be accessed that have had very little pressure during the late fall open water period, making for some hot fishing for the first people to venture onto the ice here.

When it comes to harbor fishing, early ice allows an angler to get away from the docks and shorelines, which eliminates the risk of fish tangling around dock pilings and also spooking away from the docks as you walk down them.  When the ice forms, the fish seem to be much less spooky. 

The final factor that makes early ice the best time of the winter, is fishing pressure.  Early ice provides an opportunity to target “fresh” fish that have not been pressured, and at this time of the year there are typically good numbers of fish still coming in from the lake.  As winter wears on, less fish come in from the lake and fishing pressure increases.  With less fish and more fisherman, mid-winter becomes a tough time of year to consistently catch the elusive Trout.  A warm snap that increases current flow in the rivers can bring fresh fish in from the lake, so keep this in mind when planning your midwinter Trout fishing trips.

When venturing out on early ice, make sure you are aware of the ice conditions and bring another angler along just in case you find yourself in over your head!  Ice picks are also a good idea during this time of the year, as thin spots cannot be detected once there is some snow on the ice.  Whether you choose to fish in the harbors or rivers at this time of the year, be safe and enjoy this prime time of the year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Day!

Well, Winter Storm Brianna is busy dropping lots of snow in our area, and will be followed by brutal winds and frigid temperatures.  The good news is we should finally have some fish-able ice by the middle of next week! 

Besides keeping up with the shoveling of the driveway, today will be spent preparing all of my ice fishing gear for another season of battle!  All of my tip ups need to be gone through, to sort out any tangled lines from last year, and tie on some new leaders.

I also plan on making some ice hole covers for this season, which will be painted black to reduce hole freezing, as well as shade the hole on sunny days.  The Hummingbird battery is hooked up and charging, and I even pulled out a bag of Brown Trout eggs to tie into spawn sacs for the weekend.  Looks like today will be a productive day, despite the weather!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Open Water Fishing with the Automatic Fisherman

Who would think to use their ice fishing gear during the open water season, I would!  Trout fishing in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Harbors in the fall presents the perfect opportunity for open water fishing with the Automatic Fisherman!  

Three lines per angler are allowed here in Wisconsin, and when Great Lakes Trout fishing, more lines are usually better!  Trout have a tendency to change their food preference on a daily basis, so using the Automatic Fisherman allows me to set stationary lines with spawn, waxworms, or minnows for starters, and then change things up once the fish show their bait preference.  While the Automatic Fishermen are busy at work, I am also casting with crankbaits, spinners, spoons, and even Gulp!  This approach allows all techniques to be deployed in an extremely efficient manner. 

Setting the Automatic Fisherman off docks works just like setting them on the ice.  The only variable is the fish can take the line in any direction instead of just around the ice hole.  To prevent losing my setup by a large fish running wild, I make sure to have the drag set light enough to allow the fish to take line rather than pull the Automatic Fisherman into the water.  I have caught some large fish while doing this and have never had any issues.

Other anglers will probably give you a weird look as they watch you setup your Autos, but when they watch you land a beautiful Steelhead on one, they too will be using their ice fishing gear a bit early!  Fighting a 15+ pound Trout on an ice fishing pole in open water will give you quite the adrenaline rush, I guarantee it!  This is just another of the many reasons you need to get your hands on the Automatic Fisherman today!