Deer hunting ends, frozen rivers/lakes approach, and cabin fever grips hunters. Not for couch potatoes, ice-fishing trout combats winter boredom and yields tasty meals. Many view ice fishing as a panfish sport in Midwest, but trout fishing is often considered open water.
The kind of water that is easy to overlook. Easy to drive by and assume that the diminutive size or depth isn’t worth the effort. From Nebraska to Illinois and far beyond, the same story seems worth repeating. Some of ice fishing’s best opportunities for panfish can sometimes be some very unassuming water.
Words paint a mental picture, and, oftentimes, certain words immediately bring to mind a specific image. For instance, the mention of fly fishing often brings up a very vivid and nostalgic scene. Many folks immediately imagine an angler standing knee-deep in a pristine trout stream, attired in waders, a fishing vest, and a wide-brimmed hat.
For years my trout fishing included tiny jars of dried salmon eggs, brightly-hued marshmallows, processed garlic cheese, and canned corn. We never stopped to ask ourselves why any self-respecting fish would eat such decidedly unnatural fare — we just found they caught trout.
In any endeavor or occupation, the experience is the best instructor. Freshwater foraging is no exception. To develop expertise usually takes months, years to accomplish. Practice “hands-on” as much as possible. For the neophyte or a moderately experienced angler, I’ve compiled information that will aid in fish capture.
Our ancestors were dependent on freshwater foraging, and the great leaks and rivers in North America provided them with an abundant source of protein. Even today, freshwater foraging is a skill that is being used by Americans, although fish is not as abundant as it was back then.
Nature’s own live baits provide texture (feel), scent, and sight that is impossible to duplicate artificially fully. In many hook and line fishing situations, these natural advantages provide the “edge” of success.