Outside Chance

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Ice fishing has finally arrived

Fishing success is much like carpentry work, it’s all in the fine details. The more accomplished anglers pay attention to the finer details. The carpenter that stays busy via word of mouth is because of the finer details.

“I would start on the first drop-off closest to the largest shallow water flat that held weeds,” said Skeeter Warner, a 70 year old who can run circles around most anglers. His theory is that the weeds should have died and the better oxygen would be at the edge of the flat.

Rarely will you find him in a shanty, he prefers a pail and practices two basic rules. One, angler cutting the most holes normally finds the most fish. Second, do not fish an empty hole. What he means by this is that he drops down his Vexliar and if no fish turn up, he is off to the next hole. “My Vexliar is key to my fishing, without it I would rather stay home than fish blind,” said Warner.

“Color, size and profile make a big difference each day on the water,” stated Warner. Some days you need a smaller profile or a smaller weight teardrop. Other days a different color teardrop and other times a smaller bait package. The Skandia line is made of Tungsten and drops fast. The Moon Glow baits are lead and fall slower.

His favorite colors are gold, chartreuse/purple, chartreuse, and he follows the dark days, dark colors, and light day’s lighter colors. Second, he uses spikes. He starts out with 4 spikes and will drop down to one if need be. While the rage is with plastics he has confidence in the real deal, thus what he uses.

He uses a GPS all of the time. With years of way points saved, scouting time is reduced. He wants to know where the flats are, the weeds, a log, the edge or the deep water areas that fish will suspend over. Even when he goes fishless, he marks points of interest for future use.

Stick-ups, bushes or wood of any type are a drawing card for crappie and gills. Winter time and early spring are my favorites but twelve months out of the year panfish will be found in wood if present.

Tree tops that have numerous limbs might hold a limit of fish. In this case you might need four holes to fish one tree. Early in the season the tree tops closest to the shore produce the best. As winter takes hold the tops closest to deep water produce best.

A stump field can be a combination of the two. Stumps most often are located away from the shoreline and often in deeper water. They provide a great year around structure but a good graph is needed in locating them. Once a stump field is found a GPS becomes your best friend.

Backwaters of a river or a bayou almost always have brush along the shoreline. An undeveloped section of a lake will have logs, brush and debris near the shoreline or fallen trees that might reach the first drop-off.

Fallen trees create a canopy for the fish to hide under. The closer the drop-off is to the shoreline the longer or larger the canopy will be. Vision a majestic 50 foot oak tree that fell into the lake. Twenty feet from shore the drop-off begins. Part of the tree will be hanging over the drop-off creating perfect year around cover.The past year I played around with scents. Rarely had I a day that a non- scented bait out produced a scented bait but I did have days where the scent out did the non- scent baits. The Pro-Cure scents are awesome. “All of our scents are made from real fish, real crawlers, etc.,” said Phil Pirone, the owner.

Amino acids is added to many of their scent line. They carry over 130 various scents in liquid, Gel or paste combinations. The Mister Ice Hole series is designed for the ice angler. It does not matter if you are using a tip up, a jigging spoon or a teardrop.

Skeeter developed a light batter (Skeeters Batter Up) that ended up being used on fish, steak, onion rings, pork and chicken. It’s very light and if deep fried turns out great in peanut oil or canola oil. His favorite oil is rice oil which is hard to come by.

I love ice flies, glow baits, Whip R Snaps and a few perch colored baits. Lucky for me Stopper Lures is my one stop shopping center for panfish lures.

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