Winter Fishing

Do fish still feed in the winter? Yes they do, otherwise guys wouldn’t be ice fishing. Sometimes they feed pretty good, but most of the time they just swim around and don’t feed or they just sit on the bottom and rest. I think Catfish hibernate, they sit and don’t do anything. You can actually see giant Flathead Catfish walking across bridges where it’s shallow, they just sit there and don’t move.

What kind of action: Surprisingly fast action can work in cold water. Fish are triggered to bite even though they aren’t on the feed. Bluegill like a fast bouncy bait that is hard to catch on the below zero days, other days they will hit about any action. Crappie like a floppy bait up high, most all the time. Flashy baits work good on sunny days. Perch like to chase, especially near the bottom but they like a high bait as do Bluegill and Bass. Bass like a jerking bait with a slow flutter, or a bouncy active bait. Fish will stare for a long time and most times turn their nose up and keep on swimming around, other times they will compete for the bait. Once you get a pattern going they can be easy to catch. Getting a pattern going is pretty easy in clear shallow water but quite difficult otherwise. The color can change in an hour, as can the action.

Walleyes do a lot of cruising but they can also sit for long periods. Most of the time they aren’t on the feed, but for short periods they can turn on and fishing can be fast. Working a jig can change by the hour, but they are like perch and like to chase a swimming bait. They may stare at a bait for a long time, then just move on not touching it. Only a small percentage of the fish can be caught. They may bite it, spit it and never touch it again. Smaller baits are better in the winter because they just don’t feed that much. They can go all winter without eating anything. Digesting large meals takes too much effort in such cold water, so they mostly snack. Rapala type crankbaits work well, with a slow action. Jigs are the best bet, but sonar can work as well when fish are turned off. Work the jig slow, but on clear cold days Walleye like a good jigging action near strong current.

About Dave Tackett

Dave Tackett is from Sterling Illinois. An avid fisherman since childhood, he has fished all over the Midwest, mainly the Mississippi River pools 8-19. His home waters are pools 13 & 14. After fishing Bass tournaments for many years, he gave it up to fish for Walleye year round. He now guides and fishes for fun. He likes to take photos of the scenic places he visits on the river and likes to keep a video camera running to get footage for his Walleye DVDs. Photography is now where he most of his time working, using professional DSLR cameras and lens. These photos include landscape around the Mississippi River and the Rock River, river birds like eagles heron, egrets etc.
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