As fishermen, most of us know how barometric pressure can affect the fish we target. This is especially true when on the ice, as the added weight of the ice layers pushing down against the water will cause the air bladders of fish to expand more, thus leaving less room for their stomachs and putting the fish into a very negative state of feeding.
March is usually a time when feeding of the fish starts to pick up as late ice is beginning to arrive, but that has not been the case in the Black Hills so far. The air pressure has been very high and remained there and it has affected fish numbers as a result.
I've been trying to hunt down big bluegills along with largemouth and smallmouth bass recently, but multiple trips have thus far resulted in some decent catches, but not the numbers or sizes I'm looking for.
Added to that, is the frustration on trying to get marks that show up on my Vexilar FLX-28 to bite. Finding fish hasn't been a real problem, but getting them to bite has been.
The fish were not rising very far off the bottom and trying different size spoons and jigs with plastics or maggots or a combination of both has been the key to getting fish to bite even when they are in such a negative mood. Downsizing has proven to be key during these high pressure days.
The fish that have been more aggressive, responded well to the Demon Tongue spoon from 8 My Bait or a Clam Caviar Drop, but often times, a smaller jig and a slower cadence has gotten the most action.
Vertical jigs such as Clam's Half Ant Drop and Northland Tackle's Mitee Mouse jig tipped with either a Maki Jamei or Northland Water Flea with the tail clipped have caught fish, thanks to the smaller profile and very subtle movement of the plastics.
However, just because the bite is tough, it's no reason to not keep trying. We fishermen and women are nothing else if not stubborn and persistent. As the month continues, I'm looking forward to more late ice bites and hopefully, lower air pressure.