50 degrees and ice. Who would have thought they go very well together?
It's no news flash to anyone that I am a gilloholic. Big bluegill make my fishing world go round. Late ice is a fine time to target these delicious pullers.
As the snow melts more light creeps through the ice and daylight hours become longer and longer. This triggers the panfish to begin their journey to shallower waters. Where they become more vulnerable to the savvy angler.
Try to determine staging areas these fish might be hanging in before ice out. Areas such as bays and in front of creeks and run off ditches. Typically 6 - 12 feet of water seems to be the key depths this time of year.
Drill LOTS of hole. Hole hoppin'. Stay mobile. Keep moving from hole to hole to hole. There will be small pods of fish cruising their new territory. You'll catch nothing, then more nothing, then you'll hit a hot hole. And, repeat.
I like to use a super light rod. Reason being, I don't need a spring bobber. Some of these fish will be extremely aggressive and some will be very touchy. One of the VERY best panfish baits on the market, the Ratso. In this situation I tip my with a single euro larvae. This has insane action and will trigger strikes like no other bait. Plastics produce some big gills.
Although late ice is a great time to get out and target panfish we also have to remember to be safe. Use common sense on the ice. If it gets too bad to fish, don't worry, we'll have the boats out soon. Happy gillin' folks!