Green River Star -

By Fred Uhrich

Jigging techniques for ice fishing


I like catching and releasing a lot of fish and the trout I catch average 15-22 inches.

I like to stay in between 10 and 20 feet of water with a few drop offs in between. Structure is a big part of it. If I find this depth of water with drop offs on the inside turn of a point, and going into a small bay, all the better. This is the type of area to find feeding fish as they cruise by looking for a meal, and a point is where you will find me fish 65 percent of the time.

Good times for catching trout on clear ice with lots of light and oxygen are from dawn to 9 a.m., and then 3 p.m. to dusk. If the ice is cloudy and snow packed with lower oxygen content, trout cruise in and out faster and don’t hug the shallow areas as long, and they dart back to deeper water. During these kind of conditions ,I look for a basin that gently goes from 20 to 60 feet, and has a hump, generally this will hold staging fish. Setting down prior to going fishing and having a map recon on a topo map will give you a good game plan prior to heading out into a new area.

For fishing in close in shallow water, I like to finesse a small jig such as a small Northland pink, white, or red micro fry with a wax worm on it. I use short rod setups of 18 inches, with a quick tip with two-to-four-pound test line.

I jig about six inches to a foot off the bottom and keep a very tight easy cadence to my jigging that is within a one to four-inch area. Using a twitching, yawn, shudder, and snap jigging movements bring fish in. When a fish shows up on my fish finder and just sits there looking at my jig, I slowly raise my jig up while still using a shudder jigging movement. It’s a hoot to tease a fish in this way.

A camera is also a fun way to jig for fish, but you have to have bright light and clear water. At 20 feet, in murky water in the middle of the day, I can only see a couple feet. The only bad thing in using a camera is if a hooked fish tangles up in the camera line.

Moving out to deeper water, I switch to heavier and longer rod set ups of 24 to 48 inches with a six to 15 pound test line. I move up from my micro jigs to glow in the dark spoons, airplane, propeller, and plastic grubs or squids. I cut slivers of sucker meat for bait for the jigs.

In dark water, you need to bring your glow jig up every three to five minutes and recharge the jig with a UV light. I have been having better luck using the propeller jig, and ripping it up between one and a half to three feet, jigging a few times then letting it drop back down to the lake floor and bobbing it. When jigging squids, I start at the bottom jigging, and then move up at one foot intervals at a time but using the same cadence of jigging of snaps, and twitching. I’ll do this until I am 20 to 30 feet off the bottom. If nothing; I will drop to the bottom and start over again.

I hope these ideas help in your next ice fishing trip.


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