Published on December 2nd, 2017 | by The Iceman0
How to catch panfish through the ice on very cold days
Bottom bouncing small but heavy jigs is a good way to catch panfish through the ice on very cold days. It is now regularly practice for me and the people who fish with me, but I remember a time years ago when it was all new to us. Since it may be new to some of you too, I figured it would be worthwhile to tell you how to do it.
During very cold periods, especially if there has been ice on for a while, the panfish will often sink down to the bottom of the water column and move very little. When this happens it seems like you can’t find fish. You’ll drill holes in all the likely spots but you won’t see any fish on your flasher at all.
Check the bottom
Well, at least at first glance. If you look long and hard you’ll occasionally see a little flicker of movement down at the bottom. At first you might think it is plant movement or maybe even some suckers nosing around, but in fact it will be bluegills and pumpkinseeds hunkered down through a cold spell.
If you’re in all the right places but can’t find any fish, there is a good chance they are hanging down low near the bottom. In that case, the best option is to pound the bottom with a heavy tungsten ice fishing jig.
The idea is that you want to wake the fish out of their sleep. A tungsten jig can pack a lot of weight and bulk into a small size. With it, you can easily make some noise and even kick up some dirt and debris on the bottom of the lake without scaring the fish away.
Pounding the bottom
This type of fishing is pretty much as easy as it sounds. It works best with very sensitive rods and light ice fishing lines like Berkley Micro Ice in one pound or two pound test. With that set up, you can see the small light bites that you might otherwise miss.
You open your reel and let your jig fall down quick and land on the bottom. Then you quickly raise and drop the rod tip ever so slightly between five and ten times to kick up some dust. You don’t want the jig to come up more than a foot on each rise, but you do want it to slam back down on a slack line.
As soon as that’s done, you real up between one and two feel and hold the jig almost totally still in the water. If you have a flasher you watch to see if any fish come up to inspect the jig. They usually will. If you don’t have a flasher, you just watch the light line and rod tip for any sign of movement to set the hook.
My favorite jig for bottom bouncing in cold weather is the a gold Drop Jig by Clam. That almost always works in nearly every situation. I carry a whole assortment of tungsten ice fishing jigs though, because there are times when you need to change sizes or colors.
As a general rule you want to use the smallest jigs you can away with when it’s very cold. Fish don’t have to commit as much to bite them. Of course if you’re fishing deep water with a current, you need to use a heavier jig. I like gold the best as it can bring fish in, but when that doesn’t work or if its a bright day and the ice is clear and letting a lot of light through, I’ll use a black or green jig instead.
Banging jigs off the bottom on cold days through the ice works wonders and can help put you into panfish that you otherwise would never catch. Try it out if you get the chance.