If you asked most anglers what their favourite lure would be, a jig would be the answer most of the time. When you are dealing with frozen water that answer changes substantially. Jigging spoons, chunks of metal that are hammered into different thicknesses and weights, start to make huge inroads as far as the go to bait. The nice thing about ice fishing is that you get to use two rods, which means you can use a jig on your dead stick line while working a jigging spoon in another hole to either bring fish in or trigger aggressive bites.
At this time of the year, and again in March most of the anglers I fish with and talk to, say the number one lure choice would be a jigging spoon, a piece of metal that flashes and flutters, attracting fish from a distance. In the middle of December last year we hit Lake Winnipeg for the first of many trips. About half way through the day the fish really started to become active. I could tell that by how the fish were reacting to my presentation below the ice on my ice flasher.
I could see the mark coming up on my electronics, a black bar rising rapidly to where my Northlands Buckshot rattle jigging spoon was suspended two feet above the bottom. Watching
my line intently, I shook the rod lightly. That was all that was required to trigger this big walleye from engulfing my offering.
Fishing in fifteen feet of water, the big walleye bulldogged down. Roger Stearns, who was fishing nearby came running to my assistance. Peering down the hole, he grabbed the fish once I got the head started up the hole. After a quick measure along with a couple of digital images this Lake Winnipeg walleye was sent back down the hole. Roger is a veteran walleye angler and he has a small box jam full of every jigging spoon known to man. He loves to work spoons, relishing the smack a big angry walleye. Over the years Roger has developed a certain stroke, a medium lift and drop with the spoon falling on slack line for about a foot. After a pause, Roger will usually jiggle the bait a couple of times before the next lift and drop. If he marks a fish looking at his bait on the electronics, he will lift the bait up ever so slowly before giving it another shake.
JIGGING SPOON BASICS:
Jigging spoons can be broken down into three categories. You have the light flutter spoons that work extremely well in shallower water. These are excellent choices right now for first ice walleye and stocked trout. One of my favourites is a Williams Ice jig. These light metal spoons will roll and flutter when dropped on a slack line.
In the second category are the spoons that fish a little more vertical. These include the Northland Forage Minnow, the Rattln Snakie and the Kastmaster, all extremely effective vertical jigging spoons. The Northland Buckshot Rattle jig falls in that category as well, though it has a little more size to side roll on the drop.
The third category involves spoons that have both a glide and flutter on the drop. This in-between category is especially effective on neutral fish. One that worked well on Lake Winnipeg last year as well was Lindy Legendary Tackle Flyer Spoon. It has a semi glide and flutter. There is no shortage of different kinds of jigging spoons in your local tackle shop. Over the last three years I have really expanded my stock to three small tackle boxes of jigging spoons from very light to quite heavy for
winter lake trout fishing. For walleyes I prefer something in the one eight ounce range depending on depth, while for lake trout I will move up to three quarter of an ounce.
When using jigging spoons you are probably advised to use a nice small inline swivel to prevent line twist and lure spin as well as a small snap for lure attachment. Line twist and lure spin can really diminish your odds at catching fish.
I have replaced all my treble hooks on my jigging spoons with a single hook. This has dramatcially increased my hooking percentage. A single hook allows the fish to take the bait deeper on the bite, and with a Tru Turn hook most of the time the hook is set in the corner of the mouth. You can also thread on a minnow, another way to stop short strikes.