Lake Guntersville Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me: ronnie@fishing-about.com

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 2/16/19

With the spring weather quickly approaching the winter so far has been really-good; yes,
there been some ups and downs but its been one of the best winter bites we’ve seen in many
years. This past week was no exception some really-good days some weather change days
that slowed the bite and some days of average fishing. Look for some great days ahead and
improvement over last year as we progress into 2019.

This past week we kept fishing in 5 to 9 ft. of water, baits have been fairly-steady with the
SPRO Aruka Shad rattle bait being our best catcher over the 7 days. We also fished Picasso
umbrella rigs, Picasso spinner baits and Missile Bait ‘48’ stick baits and Tight-Line Chatter
Baits. Grass is the key, along with covering water until you find a group of fish.

Come fish with us no one will treat you better or work harder to see you have a great day on
the water. I have guides and days available to fish with you. Looking for a way to entertain
your customer we do corporate trips; we would love to help you entertain your important
clients. We fish with great sponsor products, Lowrance Electronics, Boat Logix Mounts, T&H
marine products, Duckett Fishing, Vicious Fishing, Ranger Boats, Mercury Motors, Power pole
and more.
F
Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Phone: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry

Fish Impacted by Hurricanes

Are Fish Impacted by Hurricanes?

Gray triggerfish tagged


Gray triggerfish tagged for research

From NOAA Fisheries
from The Fishing Wire

A new study indicates fish in deep water do experience the affects of storms

Hurricanes can and do wreak havoc on coastal marine ecosystems. They destroy coral reefs, mix up the water column, redistribute bottom sediments, and increase pollution via storm-water runoff.

Hurricanes can also cause fish to evacuate nearshore estuaries and coastal ocean environments towards deeper water. Nobody has studied whether storms influence fish in deeper water, but most people think they are mostly immune from storm effects.

Tagged gray triggerfish


Tagged gray triggerfish

In a recently published paper in Scientific Reports, researchers at the Beaufort Laboratory of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center and a colleague at the Naval Postgraduate School show that fish occupying habitats as deep as 120 feet can also be strongly affected by hurricanes.

Researchers Nate Bacheler, Kyle Shertzer, Rob Cheshire, and Jamie MacMahan affixed transmitters to thirty gray triggerfish, a commercially and recreationally important oceanic fish species that associates with rocky reef habitats in the southeast United States. These fish were tracked in an area off North Carolina during September 2017 as two hurricanes, Jose and Maria, along the North Carolina coast.

What the researchers found was surprising, as each storm approached, most of the tracked gray triggerfish quickly evacuated the 120-foot deep study area in the direction of even deeper water, and those few fish that remained in the study area swam much faster than normal. After the passing of each storm, many of the tracked gray triggerfish returned to the study area within a couple of days and resumed normal swimming behavior.

Previous studies have indicated that falling barometric pressure, increased runoff, or a change in water temperature are primary cues that fish use to determine that storms are approaching. Here, gray triggerfish evacuated the study area 1–2 days in advance of hurricanes, long before any changes in barometric pressure or water temperature occurred. Instead, the researchers determined that, as surface waves increased in size from each approaching storm, energy from those large waves was transferred to the bottom, resulting in sloshing of water on the bottom. It appears as though the sloshing of bottom water, or the related fluctuating water pressure from sloshing, was the cue to which gray triggerfish responded. Only the waves from largest storms can transfer enough energy to cause sloshing in 120 feet deep of water.

We all know that storms can strongly influence the movements of organisms in estuaries and coastal oceans. This study shows that fish in deep, offshore oceans can be strongly affected by storms as well.

Fishing Lake Hartwell with Matt Justice

A couple years ago, I met Matt Justice at Lake Hartwell to get information and pictures for my October 2016 Map of the Month article in Georgia Outdoor News. Between trips there I often forget it is only a little over two hours away, depending on traffic, and it is a beautiful lake with clear water and full of largemouth and spotted bass.

I left at 3:30 AM to meet Matt at 6:30 AM since I hate to be late. It was a good thing I did. I made it about 40 miles up I 85 north of Atlanta quickly since there was fairly light traffic that time of night. I was surprised at the number of vehicles headed north toward Atlanta, even at 4:00 AM. I guess they were trying to get to work ahead of traffic.

Suddenly I saw blue flashing lights and red tail lights a mile or so ahead of me. As I came to a stop traffic was trying to get to the right lane. When I got close enough a police officer had his car blocking the road and was routing traffic off the interstate.

I followed my GPS and some 18 wheelers through a couple of small towns to the next exit, about 10 miles north, where we got back on the interstate. That added over 30 minutes to my trip. I found out later there was a wreck with fatalities and the interstate was blocked for a long time. I am glad I was able to exit before the accident site.

I met Matt and we started fishing at daylight, casting topwater baits in a shallow cove. Matt caught a solid 2.5 pound largemouth on a topwater frog. The second place we stopped I caught 1.5 pound spot on a topwater plug back in a creek. Topwater fishing is fun and the strike is the most exciting one to me.

After fishing two more shallow areas to put on the map we started hitting main lake points, using topwater baits and drop shot worms to try to catch some spotted bass. Those points are usually good but there was no wind and no power was being generated, so there was no current. That made fishing tough!

On one of the holes, marked #3 on the map but actually the last one we fished, we both caught keeper spots on drop shot worms. But that was it for the day. I was in the car headed home by 10:30, which was great since it got me off the water before it got too hot.

The trip home was uneventful although the traffic was much heavier. But there were not wrecks so I was at home and napping shortly after 2:00PM.

Halt Offshore Wind Development Along Atlantic Coast

Recreational Fishing Alliance Calls On President to Halt Offshore Wind Development Along Atlantic Coast

Are wind generators bad for fish?


Washington, DC – In a letter submitted to President Donald Trump on Thursday, February 7, 2019, Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) Executive Director Jim Donofrio requested an immediate halt on all work on proposed industrial wind farms along the Atlantic Coast. The request was prompted in response to the issuance of 6 commercial offshore wind leases by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) since 2016 along the Atlantic Coast. BOEM is the federal agency under the Department of Interior that oversees offshore renewal energy development in federal waters. Donofrio called for work being conducted under this permits to be halted citing a failure of the agency to fully investigate and assess the impacts that offshore wind energy generation facilities will have on valuable commercial and recreational fisheries.

In his letter, Donofrio articulated the fishing community’s concerns with the pace at which the leases have been issued and the lack of a comprehensive ecological evaluation on the potential impacts that offshore wind development may have on fish stocks. While the idea that adding new structure in the form of wind turbines to the ocean, particularly in areas where the bottom is comprised of fine sand, will attract fish and create new fishing opportunities for anglers, one cannot over-look the literature coming out of countries that have aggressively developed their coast lines with wind turbines. Studies from Denmark and other European countries find that fish stocks display measurable behavioral and migratory responses in presences of noise (vibrations created by the massive blades) and electromagnetic fields (EMF) produced by the turbines and the miles of underwater cables required to transmit the electricity generated to shore.

Applying these findings to the lease areas proposed for development off of Atlantic coast the US, there is the very real threat that once installed, offshore wind farms may disrupt north/south and inshore/offshore migrations of important fish stocks such as striped bass, bluefish and pelagics. It is also unknown how the inshore/offshore movements of demersal species such as summer flounder will be impacted. It would be extremely unfortunate to build these facilities in hast only to find out that EMF from the transmission cables disrupts the seasonal movements of summer flounder into Mid-Atlantic bays and estuaries. RFA finds that associated risks far outweigh the benefits of offshore wind and demands that development be halted so that all potential impacts can be fully vetted.

“The companies that are pursuing these projects have no legal obligation or regard for American commercial or recreational fishermen who have been on these grounds earning a living for decades,” explained Jim Donofrio. “Our jobs and our fisheries must come first.”

In a recent article included in Making Waves, RFA’s newsletter, RFA outlined the numerous concerns associated with offshore wind facilities. Specifically, the article outlined the economic cost of offshore wind which falls on the backs of rate payers. In many of these projects, the vast majority of the capital comes from rate payer subsidies, federal and state assistance and tax credits, not from private sources. Offshore wind has proven to be one of the most expensive forms of electric generation but companies, many of which are foreign, are scrambling to secure leases because US tax payers will foot the bill for the planning, construction and operation of their facilities and then in turn, the companies can sell the electricity back to rate payers at an above market rate.

Also cited in the February 7th letter to President Trump are the navigational and safety at sea issues associated with the proposed offshore wind facilities. The United States Coast Guard and the United States Marine Corp have both expressed concerns that wind turbines would interfere with their missions along the East Coast.

BOEM has conducted 7 competitive lease sales and now has 12 active wind development areas with at least one in each state from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Total lease areas off the Atlantic Coast are expected to exceed 1.4 million acres excluding the submerged lands developed and used for transmission lines. Make no mistake, once fully built, off-shore wind stands to have a significant and permanent impact on our fisheries.

“There is absolutely no reason we should be rushing to develop offshore wind with the US producing more clean, domestic natural gas than ever,” stated Donofrio. “BOEM needs to slow down and carefully review all the impacts associated with offshore wind before jeopardizing our marine resources and straddling US tax payers with higher electric bills.”

####

For more on the Recreational Fishing Alliance, visit www.joinrfa.org

Fished Germany Creek

On Saturday I fished in Germany Creek where my boat club is located. I sent several hours idling around playing with electronics, working with my Lowrance Carbon side and down scan that I finally got working right. It showed me rocks, brush and stumps on places I have fished for years but did not know were there.

I caught three keepers, one on a crankbait and two on a Carolina Rig. The sunny day had a good many fishermen on the water and some pleasure boaters, too. Clarks Hill is well stocked with stripers and hybrids and that is what most were trying to catch, but there was at least one tournament, too.

Monday was the kind of day I love this time of year. It was cloudy and a little foggy, so everything was muted and quiet. I saw three other boats all day, one of them a group of deer hunters riding to their stands near the lake. It was very peaceful.

Back in the 1970s and 80s I always stayed at the lake Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, fishing every day. One year I went to my place Christmas afternoon after dinner with my parents and Linda at their house in Dearing. For the next five days I fished every day and never saw another person.

I love it. The only reason I saw someone on the sixth day was I had to go into town and get gas for the boat. The lake is a bit more crowded now, but not too bad.

Again on Monday I spent most of my time on the water studying electronics, marking cover and structure I want to fish later. Some of it I knew about. Some of the brush I marked I put out back in the 1970s. Those cedar trees that stay underwater last a long time, and still hold fish.

I again caught three bass, all on a jig and pig off one ditch. It is similar to places Joshua and I fished on the other side of the lake. Bass like sharp drops this time of year and we used to camp at this place and called it the cliffs, since the ditch runs back and had banks that dropped straight down into the water about ten feet below. Those drops continue underwater, too.

Salt Effects On Stream Health

Road Salt Effects On Stream Health
By Scott Maxham, Izaak Walton League
from The Fishing Wire

Salting roads affects streams


As the days shorten and get colder, our thoughts shift from outdoor activities to spending time indoors with friends and family. When it’s time to snuggle up by the fire, many of us might think it’s also time to put stream monitoring and the Clean Water Challenge on hold until spring. But there is still work to be done, even when the temperature drops.

Although we typically suggest biological stream monitoring (finding macroinvertebrates) in the fall and spring, we should not forget about water quality during the summer and winter months. Each season presents specific threats to stream health. In winter, road salt can cause serious damage to water quality. That’s why the League created the Winter Salt Watch campaign – to help volunteers like you measure salt (sodium chloride) levels in local streams and alert local agencies when they spot a problem.

How exactly does road salt work – and how did we get to using up to 20 million tons of it every year?

Road Salt: A Brief History

Road salt was first used in New Hampshire in 1941 – and its use quickly snowballed. As automobile accidents decreased in New Hampshire, other snow-covered states took notice and began using road salt. In the 1950s, the U.S. highway system began a rapid expansion, and the increased mileage of roadways required even more road salt. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Americans began to realize the harmful effects of road salt on nearby lands and waters. Cities began to be more mindful of salt usage, but ultimately we were hooked and there was no easy alternative. Over the past two decades, some cities have looked into using salt alternatives, but other de-icers have failed to gain traction due to cost concerns.

Today, we use 10 to 20 million tons of road salt every year, depending on the length and severity of winter weather. The majority of the road salt we use comes from salt mines across the country (the same salt that is ground up for use on your dinner table). It is difficult to know when these salt supplies will run out, but it is certainly much cheaper to use domestic salt – on both our roads and our tables – than to import it from other major salt producers such as China.

The Science of Salt

Salt has the ability to both raise the boiling point of water and lower its freezing point. Fresh water will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Salt water will resist freezing to about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. However, road salt does not start working until it has dissolved into a liquid, so new technologies include applying a salt solution or pre-wetted salt to allow it to start working immediately.

Other elements, such as calcium chloride, can drop the freezing point of water much lower than 15 degrees. However, they are typically not used on roadways because they cost twice as much as rock salt.

Salting Local Streams

When road salt is used to melt ice, it eventually runs off into the soil near the road. When winter is over, spring rains flush this salt into our streams, rivers, and lakes. This is a slow process. Even if we quit using road salt today, the salt already in the ground can persist for decades, and the salt content in our streams will rise as salt continues to percolate through the soil.

I frequently used chloride test strips with children during Creek Freaks stream monitoring events. After the kids figured out that chloride gets in the water through salt (sodium chloride), they sometimes asked if that is normal or if the fish can just live with salty water like they do in the ocean. Unfortunately, most freshwater fish cannot adapt to salt in the water. Salt can also be harmful to the aquatic macroinvertebrates that we look for during stream monitoring – these freshwater bugs can only tolerate so much salt before the stream becomes uninhabitable.

The Cost to You

We all know that fast food and convenience munchies are often laden with salt. But did you know that we use more than 10 times the amount of salt on our roads than is used in all American food processing each year? Doctors have become increasingly concerned that as road salt infiltrates our drinking water supplies, it can cause problems for people with high blood pressure because water treatment plants cannot remove all the extra sodium.

Road salt can hurt your wallet too. Rust damage due to road salt can shorten the life of your car (and drop the resale value). Road salt and its application cost the U.S. some $2.3 billion a year – much of that paid through your tax dollars! One study in Ohio found that the state uses 176 pounds of road salt per person each year.

Traveling safely is important to us all. However, we need to ensure efforts to keep our roads safe do not destroy water quality in the process.

It’s easy to check how much salt is in your local stream using chloride test strips, which provide an instant reading – and you can get a FREE chloride test kit from the Izaak Walton League! Sign up for your free kit and start collecting data now to get a long-term look at chloride levels and the health of your local streams.

Fish Are Biting On the Alabama River and Clarks Hill

Based on a couple of trips in November, fish are biting on the Alabama River and Clarks Hill. Based on time of year and weather, they are probably biting everywhere in-between too.

I met Peyton McCord and Cole Burdeshaw, two Auburn fishing team members, last Tuesday at Cooters Landing on the river just outside Montgomery to get information for my Alabama Outdoor News Map of the Month article. They won a team trail tournament there the end of September with ten bass weighing just under 30 pounds. They fish the river a lot, know it well, and are very good bass fishermen.

The River, as it is called locally, runs from the Lake Jordan dams near Wetumpka north of Montgomery for 80 miles to its lock and dam. It is not well known since it does not get the publicity of other nearby lakes. But it is a fantastic fishery.

Coosa spotted bass grow big and fight hard, and the River is full of them. It also has a good population of largemouth. They live in different places, with spots mostly on the main river channel and largemouth back in creeks and coves. Spots love current and live near it.

I stayed in Prattville at a Baymont Inn only 10 minutes from the ramp. Although we fished for only a few hours, we caught some nice spots in the 2.5 to three-pound range. Winter is a great time to fish it since spots are more active in colder water.

Peyton and Cole caught their fish in September on topwater baits, but that bite is about over since the water is cooler. They switch to jerk baits, crankbaits and a jig and pig for winter fishing.

It would be a fun winter trip to the River. There are good places to stay and eat nearby. And the bluff banks and points are easy structure to find and fish when you get on the water.

Last Friday I went to my place at Raysville Boat Club on Clarks Hill and fished for three days. On Sunday I met Joshua Rockefeller to get information for my Georgia Outdoor News Map of the Month article. Joshua is a student at Augusta College and on the fishing team. He grew up in nearby Harlem, only four miles from where I grew up in Dearing.

We put in at Soap Creek on the Savannah River side of the lake. My place is on the Georgia Little River, only 25 miles away by road but almost 60 miles by water. Clarks Hill is a big lake and I know little about that side of it since I have not fished it much.

The pattern Joshua showed me is fishing ditches, creek and ditch channels back in creeks. Bass move back in them as the water gets colder and he told me about the numbers and big fish he had caught out of them in the past few years.

The water was 65 degrees, about the same as it was on the Alabama River. We caught a lot of small keeper largemouth and a few small spots, but the bigger fish have not moved back yet. They will as soon as the water gets down to around 60 degrees.

Joshua fishes jigs, crankbaits and a sled, a jig head with a flat head that makes it stand up and raise the trailer to mimic baitfish feeding on the bottom. I caught several keepers on a Carolina Rig and shaky head, but he landed about twice as many as I did.

Success on the Ice

Measuring Angler Success on the Ice

Ice fishing success


By Ron Wilson, North Dakota GFD
from The Fishing Wire

Erica Sevigny has heard her share of fishing stories this winter.

As a winter creel clerk for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department on Lake Audubon, Sevigny knocks on ice house doors to ask ice anglers a few simple questions about their fishing trip.

“I haven’t run into anyone who wouldn’t answer my questions,” said Sevigny, a North Dakota State University graduate who has worked with the Department’s wildlife division in summers past. “Some of them, especially if they catch a fish when I’m there, don’t want me to leave because they think I’m good luck.”

As luck would have it, at least for those anglers who consider Sevigny a lucky charm, Game and Fish will continue its winter creel survey on the popular fishery in central North Dakota until the end of March, or whenever anglers can no longer venture onto the ice safely to fish.

The Game and Fish Department conducts a creel survey in summer and winter on Lake Audubon every three years. During the open water months, creel clerks interview anglers at the boat ramps as they are leaving after a day of fishing.

When the lake is iced-over, creel clerks take a different approach.

“In winter, the creel clerks travel out on the ice to talk to anglers because there are just so many places to fish on the lake, including Lake Audubon refuge, which is closed to open water fishing,” said Jason Lee, Department district fisheries supervisor in Riverdale. “They’ll work a certain area on a certain day, or a couple areas on a certain day. What they’re trying to get is complete trip information, rather than just interviewing someone who has been fishing for 15 minutes or a half-hour.”

Scott Gangl, Department fisheries management section leader, said there are three components – fish, habitat and anglers – to a North Dakota fishery, Lake Audubon included.

“As anglers are one of the main components of a fisheries management plan, we on occasion want to sample these people to gather information on fishing pressure, the number of fish caught, released and total harvest,” Gangl said. “Creel surveys are another monitoring tool that allows us to gather information that helps in the management of a fishery.”

The angler interviews are short, simple and to the point. Sevigny asks anglers what species they are primarily fishing for, how long they’ve been fishing, zip code and what they’ve caught.

“If those anglers interviewed have fish that they’ve caught, the creel clerks ask if they can measure them, which is information that we’ll compile at the end of the year,” Lee said. “This information tells us, for example, the biggest fish they catch and keep, or the smallest fish they catch and keep.

“During the open water creel survey on Audubon, for example, we learned that 88 percent of the northern pike and smallmouth bass caught were released,” Lee added. “And with walleye, 50 percent were released, I suspect because they were smaller fish they didn’t want to keep. This kind of information is interesting to fisheries biologists managing the fishery.”

With the promise of several more weeks of winter and little idea how things will unfold weatherwise, Lee said Mother Nature has so far made it easy for anglers and creel clerks to access Lake Audubon.

“The more interviews the creel clerks can conduct, the better our catch-rate information,” Lee said. “We try to randomize to some degree when we’re out checking on anglers to get a look at the entire fishing day, rather than just focusing on the sundown walleye bite.”

Anglers, no matter the time of day their ice fishing outing started, are also asked to rank the quality of their trip.

“This gives us an overall idea of how well they’re enjoying their fishing experience,” Lee said. “Without their help in the creel survey, we wouldn’t have any of this valuable information. In general, anglers have been great about taking a few minutes out of their trip, or at the end of their trip, to talk to creel clerks about what they caught, their experiences and if they harvested any fish.”

While North Dakota’s more popular waters, such as the Missouri River System, Lake Audubon and Devils Lake, are surveyed routinely, but not every year, Gangl said the Game and Fish Department will survey other smaller waters when questions need to be answered.

In 2015, for example, a winter creel survey was initiated in the south central part of the state to learn, among other things, who was fishing, where they were from, and what they were catching.

Instead of a lake specific survey, the survey was based in a region where biologists could travel from lake to lake, depending on where the hot bite was happening, to interview anglers.

At the time of the survey, Gangl said: “What we’re after is the size, catch rates, species and the quality of the fishing experience. Are anglers keeping medium-sized fish, small fish, only big fish, and what is their preference?”

No matter the location of the creel survey, or time of year, Gangl said the opportunity to simply talk with anglers, to put a face with the agency managing the fisheries, is important.

“A big benefit is that we, as an agency, get to interact with the angling population on things other than biology,” he said. “We learn how far anglers are traveling to fish certain waters and we get to gauge their satisfaction. We don’t have a lot of control over what makes people happy, but they are generally happy when they are catching fish.”

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew

When I first found this recipe for Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew it did not sound good. But since I had a bumper crop of yellow squash from the garden, lots of bell peppers that year, and a good supply of ground venison in the freezer, I tried it, and love it.

I have been making it for years and have adjusted my recipe Try it, you should like it! Its easy and quick.

I usually start in skillet then remember to put it in a pot for easier stirring.

Ingredients

4 or 5 yellow squash
large bell pepper
two 14.5 weight chopped tomatoes with chili peppers
a pound or so ground meat
bacon drippings
Tablespoon salt
half teaspoon black pepper

Ground Venison and Squash Skillet Stew ingredients


Brown ground meat in bacon drippings. Add sliced squash, chopped bell peppers, cans of tomatoes, salt and pepper.
simmer for 45 minutes.

Tips for Mid-Season Ice Fishing

Four Tips for Mid-Season Ice Fishing Success
from The Fishing Wire

Changes in strategy can put more fish on the ice during the mid-winter blues.

MADISON, WI – After the rush to punch holes during first-ice, hot bites tend to cool off. Many ice anglers are left scratching their heads. Some call it the mid-season blues and leave it at that, but there are a number of tactics that can help adaptive anglers ice more fish, despite changes in fish behavior. All it usually requires is a change in approach.

Here are a number of tactics culled from anglers who spend countless hours on mid-season ice and consistently prove the period can be just as productive as first- or late-ice.

Big Walleye through the ice


Photo courtesy of St. Croix Rod

WALLEYES & PERCH—UNCONNECTED, OFFSHORE STRUCTURE

For walleyes and perch, look for offshore, unconnected structure from the shoreline—humps, reefs, crowns, etc. Bigger, more dramatic structures are usually better because they exhibit more nuances and, therefore, tend to hold more fish. That said, smaller isolated structures—tiny humps or rock piles—will still often hold fish, just not as many, so don’t overlook them. Ideally, find larger, offshore structure that’s adjacent to a flat, not a super-hard no-man’s-land break. Such flats provide a cruising area for fish and a comfortable approach to the structure. Look for depths in the 30s or 40s that shift into the 20s at the structure, keeping in mind that the deeper the tops of the structure, the longer the bites will last. Also, you want a larger structure crown—ideally, a big, flat crown with some mixed habitat perhaps including rock on one side, a slow taper on one side, and another side with a hard break. This means you can maximize your time by investigating a lot of different situations on one piece of structure.

From a mapping perspective, a mobile app like Fishidy is indispensable, which features mapping layers, contour lines, structure/vegetation, and Fishing Hot Spots. This can help you eliminate 90% of unproductive water from the get-go, saving time and energy. Then, once structure is located with the app, run the perimeter of that structure with your ATV, snowmobile, or vehicle to get a better picture of that structure’s area and pre-drill all your holes before ever dropping a line. It could be six holes or it could be 30, but you want to make sure you hit the entire piece of structure. If there’s fresh snow, all you need to do is follow your tracks around the structure as you fish or use your Fishidy app. And remember to drill three holes in each location—one on top of the structure, one on the break, and one off the break in deeper water. If someone gets on a bite, be prepared to drill a second sequence of holes in that spot, so keep your auger close while fishing.

WALLEYES—FIND GREEN WEEDS

Walleyes aren’t always out roaming the flats and reefs chasing shiners; a lot of times they’re in the weed beds snatching up young of the year bluegills and crappies. Savvy anglers know that not all weed beds die off in the winter, particularly coontail and some cabbage. Finding green weeds can be more challenging during the mid-season, but can still be accomplished with the help of hi-tech mapping and sonar, a tool like the Fishidy app, or the use of an Aqua-Vu underwater camera.

Once green, standing weeds are located, catching walleyes typically becomes a matter of working the holes and corners of the bed.

This is where tip-ups come into play, because you might be really stretched out. You may find a hole in the weed bed that’s 300 feet away from where you’re jigging. That said, green weed beds can be a great place for family fishing. Use lots of tip-ups and jig sticks to cover the most area possible, and a family or group can enjoys some banner mid-season days on the ice!

In summary, the magnetism of weeds doesn’t change throughout the winter. If anything, the remaining green weeds become super congregating areas for fish during mid-season, holding more fish in less area.

MID-SEASON LARGEMOUTH BASS

Don’t overlook the fun that largemouth bass can present during mid-season. A good place to find them is on the giant, shallow-to-mid-depth flats in bays or the mouths of bays adjacent to spring spawning areas. Green weeds are not a prerequisite in these areas, but if you find them, it’s game on. Contrary to what many believe, bass feed continuously throughout the winter and are not turned off at all. In terms of presentation, it’s tough to beat live bait on tip-ups in this application, like a shiner or sucker. Also consider hobbling the bait by cutting a fin or gills so the bass don’t have to chase it. Bass will also readily hit jigging spoons and even small jigs tipped with waxies or spikes like those used to target blugills and crappies.

WALLEYES—RATTLE BAITS

Mid-season ice fishing success doesn’t have to involve live bait. In fact, some artificial presentations—in the right circumstances—can outperform live bait. Jigging minnows and lipless rattle baits can be formidable weapons, and the latter is a real superstar in just about any mid-season situation because it fishes myriad depths, from shallow to deep. Something like a LIVETARGET lipless rattlebait fished on Seaguar braid with a fluorocarbon leader produces an ideal combination of strength, sensitivity, natural falls, and easy hooksets.

Cadence is key. The free-fall is especially important with rattle baits; you’ve got to limp line the bait down so it does everything it’s supposed to do without forcing it to have an unnatural wobble on the descent. Because the body profile of rattle baits is so natural, a lot of times fish will hit them on a dead stop with no movement. You can literally have one sitting motionless for a minute or more and a walleye will come up and hit it. The silhouette—even at a standstill—resembles young-of-the-year fish that spend much of their time barely moving, almost in suspended animation.

If walleyes are approaching small bluegills or crappies at dusk in the weeds and the panfish are shut down and the walleyes are still active, they are used to motionless prey. So, your jigging cadence doesn’t always have to be wild or active. Experiment with slower movements and even dead-sticking.