It's mid March and the late ice run is on......right? Well, you would think so,but the way the conditions of the ice would get you think we are still in February. We have 28+ inches of ice on many of the lakes in the Alexandria area and with the extended forecast it doesn't look like much melting is going to happen. And, that is fine with me and probably many hard core panfish anglers.
So, what are the fish doing? Last week they were in 16-18FOW and this week I found some fish transitioning into 14-16FOW. These fish were somewhat active at times just by the mood. Some of the crappies and gills would race up to your presentation and than stop. Other times it was a no brainier, they bit! It was a true test every time we spotted fish on the Vexilar. We fished in about 15 holes all day and that's because the fish never left or the way I put it,"They are just filtering through like a production line"! The fish came in 2-6 feet off the bottom most of the day. Where we were positioned on the break, the fish were just cruising through so there were always new lookers coming in. The one thing that was the same was the mood, so we needed to be patient and work for the biters.
The best presentation and colors were the Clam Outdoors Tungsten Drop Kick Jig 1/64oz. Either a gold or a white jig tipped with a red or white tail. This was the best size after we tried bigger jigs. But look for that to change in the next few weeks as they will be putting on the feed bag as the ice melts to provide the oxygen they need. The one thing that we have been using more and more of over the past couple of years are the spoolies on a St.Croix Rods Avid Glass 24" or 28". They well help with line twist and keeps your presentation looking natural when jigging. I know that from moving to spoolies from a reel the catch rate has definitely increased. If you haven't used them you should definitely give them a try.
In the next couple of weeks as the weather warms and the ice begins to melt, start moving in shallow where the weeds will be. This can mean 10 feet and even shallower than that. I like 5-7FOW and will sight fish them. They will be right under the ice so you can leave the flashers that home. This will also mean that ice safety will come back into the equation. Late ice can be fun but you'll still need to be careful, but until then we have plenty of great ice. Vehicles are still traveling on the lakes with wheel houses, but the landings are starting to take a beating. So be careful and check with your local bait shops for ice conditions.
Remember to practice selective harvest and catch and release. And always remember to take a kid with you on your next outdoors adventure, even though it might be your Dad.....lol. Until next time, be safe and we will see you in the outdoors.