The freezing temperatures have moved in and the lakes are finally starting to freeze over. It’s the time of year that many of us anglers patiently wait for as the late fall fishing lull is coming to an end; its time to go ice fishing!
The first few weeks of fishable ice is by far the most prolific period to target Rainbow Trout. The oxygen levels are still plentiful throughout the lake and the fish are still aggressively feeding. Sure the cooler temps start to slow down their metabolism but these opportunist trout are still searching for anything they can eat.
Here are few productive tips to help make your early season ice fishing trip successful!
Where to Fish?
Since there is still a lot of oxygen in the lake the weeds have not yet totally decayed. Small bugs such as scuds, immature damselflies, and nymphs all reside in the soft lake floor next to or within weed beds. The greener the weeds the more plentiful the forage will be for these hungry trout. Search out for green weed beds under the ice and you can bet that this area will hold fish.
Active trout typically use the larger flats that are available between the 4 to 8 feet in depth, especially when the flats are bordering sharp drops into deeper water. In the early morning the trout will cruise from the deeper water up the ledge to target forage that are residing in these shallow areas. The first few hours of light are optimum to target these bays. As the sun moves higher in the sky in the afternoon the trout will retreat back to the deeper water and wait to repeat for an evening feed. On cloudier days the trout tend to extend their feeding periods in the shallow water.
Quick Tip: If you are going to a lake that you aren’t familiar with, minimize the amount of holes you need to drill by using Google Earth! Before you head out, look at the lake on Google earth and familiarize yourself with where the shallow bays and points are. Now when you arrive at the lake you will have a better idea on where to start drilling to locate these prime weeded areas!
What Type of Lure & Presentation?
In the early ice season the trout are more active than say in later winter. Since there is still a lot of food to source out the trout will expend their energy by cruising the lake looking for an easy meal. This means an angler can present a variety of lures and bait to the trout and have success. Still fishing or “dead sticking” the bait 6 to 18 inches off the lake floor can produce results. Baits such as meal worms, dew worms, cocktail shrimp or maggots are all great options!
For the fly fishing enthusiasts using fly patterns such as Olive Balanced Leeches, Scuds, Shrimp and Damselflies can sometimes out fish a well-presented piece of bait as they are mimicking the current natural food source the trout are targeting.
Using small versatile jigging spoons such as a Mack’s Lure Sonic Bait Fish jigged with a small piece of bait can be the ticket when the fish aren’t as active. Jigging these smaller spoons near the transition areas can entice a trout from the deeper water to come up and strike.
Early season ice fishing for Rainbow Trout is a lot of fun! The fishing can be a fun filled day with non-stop fish catching action. Just remember to play it safe and check the ice conditions before walking out.