Nothing makes a cold day on the ice colder than little or no action on the end of your line. When you encounter a day on the ice when nothing seems to be biting, there are a few tricks that may heat things up.
You and every angler around you are jigging your baits up and down. Stand out from the rest of the crowd by adding a different movement to your bait. Move your line around in a circle, following the outline of the hole. Change direction. Jiggle the bait or move it back and forth in the hole, without changing depth. These tactics will make your bait stand out from the rest, providing something a little different that could entice a hit.
It may sound simplistic, but if you are using live bait, switch to artificial. If you are using artificial bait, switch to live bait. Fish can be very selective during the winter months. This could be the move that makes the difference between catching fish and not catching fish.
If you are not getting any bites, try fishing at a different depth. This may mean pursuing a different species than you were originally fishing for. Sunfish and crappies are typically suspended. If you cannot find them, try bouncing your bait off the bottom for yellow perch or walleyes, and vice versa.
Cut the light
The light streaming through your hole could be spooking the fish. Try covering the hole to reduce the light.
Sometimes simply switching the size of a jig can make the difference between catching fish and coming up empty. But make a significant change. Go from a teardrop jig to larger jig, or the other way around. Provide the fish with something completely different in size and it may be enough to trigger a strike.
It is important to remember that winter’s cold significantly slows the metabolism of fish. They often do not move far or fast to take a bait. If you are providing a lot of movement to your bait, slow down and keep it to a subtle motion, giving the fish a chance to take the bait.
Add some flash
If you are fishing with jigs and/or live bait, and are not catching anything, it could be time to add some flash. Try jigging a spoon. The flash could be enough to attract the attention of fish that were not interested in your previous offerings.
The color of your bait plays a significant role in how fish react to it, during the ice fishing season. It is important to remember that fish see colors differently, depending on available light and depth. Changing colors can significantly improve slow day on the water.