Outdoors column: Late ice panfish

The truly dedicated are about all that’s left and that’s just fine with them. They’re perfectly content having a bunch of biting panfish all to themselves and aren’t concerned that somebody else might be missing out. More anglers could get in on the fun if only they were willing enough to get back on the ice another time or two and look in places where they haven’t looked before.Outdoors column photoOne of the most exciting late season patterns is sight fishing which includes fishing right below the ice over shallower water where you can actually see the bottom and see the fish.

Reid Norrine of Oakdale is an ice fishing machine that has spent a lot of time yanking big slabs and gills out of shallow water and does a lot of it using less than three feet of line.

Reed’s take on sight vision. “It’s a great late season pattern although it can produce all season long,” he said. “I’ll look for current areas where you can still find some green weeds and then fish right over the top of them and just under the ice. Even if you don’t see fish right away don’t be afraid to work your lure up high, right below the ice. There are high riders that you won’t see until they suddenly show up just inches away from your bait. It’s fun when you can work a fish so close you could almost reach down and touch it. Gills will come in and really eyeball a bait before they take it and will give you an idea of what they do in deeper water. Because you’re so close you’ll have to sit still and use tiny motions when it comes to moving your lure or you’ll spook the fish and they won’t bite. Crappies will usually grab and go and it can all happen before you know it.”

To be able to see clearly you’ll have to get under cover and is when a lighter portable like Eskimo’s Wide1 which has a cover with a black interior really comes in handy. The black interior absorbs light and you can keep it nice and dark making it easier to peer into the water below.

Rods designed specifically for shallow panfish like the Black Betty from 13Ice also come into play. They look like a fly reel and basically are which allow you to let out and reel up line without adding any twist. Twist can spin a light bait like a #12 Hexi Fly and is not a natural occurrence and light baits are the rule if you want to catch more fish.

Late ice can actually be the best time of the year to be out and when the action is most consistent. The thing is you’ll never know how good it can be unless you give it a try. See you on the ice, one more time.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.

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