First Ice Weedline Walleyes

Category: article

 Dec 15th, 2005 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Dec 15th, 2005 at 12:00 AM

First ice is an exciting time for ice anglers, anticipation being what it is during the November early hard freezes at night. There isnt any sport much more fun than Walleye fishing on 4 of new ice, thats for sure!Many lakes and rivers offer bays and points still supporting green weed growth this time of the year. Green weeds, a drop off into deeper water, forage, and the Walleyes WILL be there.Locating a healthy green weedline is usually a late fall chore, while the lake is still soft. The best weed type to search out is cabbage, either broadleaf or thin leaf. In the shallower systems and dark water lakes, tobacco cabbage that is still green/red and crisp can be a tremendous magnet. Learning the location of the edge and either committing it to memory or entering the coordinates into a hand held GPS is the key.The next step is to find forage, where the perch or other walleye food sources are, the walleyes will be. Most times, youll find them in the deeper water off the edge during the day. If you can locate them there, its pretty easy to track them on to the shelf when they move up and into the weeds.Depending on the lay of the weedline, one needs to place tip-up sets as close to the edge as possible without being actually IN the weeds. Place a tip up on a weed point, and another in an inside turn close to that point where you have found the fish to be in the fall, or best guess where they SHOULD be based on the layout of the weedline and the proximity of forage fish.. Some areas allow for three lines; in that case jigging a walleye spoon or other presentation out over the perch and moving with them to the edge as afternoon wears to evening can be very productive.Theres always debate what the best tip up bait is for walleyes, but its tough to beat a 3 to 4 sucker. Shiners are good, so are redtails, and in fact almost any minnow that moves will catch fish.The tip up line will depend on whether theres a lot of Pike present. Traditional sets for Walleyes demand lighter line, so a superline ( wear gloves if using superlines, or you WILL get some very painful cuts on your hands) or comparable Dacron or supermonofilament with a fluorocarbon leader and a small treble hook will be unobtrusive and effective, stopping most bite-offs from the toothy fish. Designing a quick strike type of rig, like the muskie anglers use, will allow for immediate hooksets. A small hook on the end of the leader, and a treble that can slide on the leader, will allow for the small hook in the minnows mouth from bottom through the top, and the treble adjusted to go through the dorsal. When the fish takes the minnow, it will usually T Bone this set up and have the treble in a perfect hookset position. Set the hook HARD, and the lightly hooked small single hook in the minnows nose will pull free easily, or it will stick the fish!Traditional sets include either a small treble or single hook, usually placed in the dorsal fin area of the minnow. Usually, once the flag trips, one gives the walleye a few minutes to get the bait turned and down before setting the hook.I usually cut my holes as soon as I get out down the weedline and out off the edge, so I can move around without firing up the auger all the time. If there are many other anglers out there, that might not work too well.The new Arctic Fire Frabill tip up lights are perfect for after dark, and a headlamp using the new LED super bright bulbs is a nice addition for chasing tip ups in the dark. A lantern is another must, but if alone the head lamp is sometimes easier when carrying a bucket of minnows, etc to a tripped tip up.Watch the other anglers out there, as well. If the fish are up inside the weeds, you may have to move about with them some, but ALWAYS keep a rig set on the edge; bigger fish are usually more common on the weedline pockets and points especially as the sun sets.This pattern can last for a couple weeks or a couple months depending on fishing pressure, ice thickness, snow cover, and a host of other variables. Once the weedline bite tapers off searching for deep humps, rocks, and other structure holding the forage will keep you in contact with the walleyes all season

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