The Big Day!
BY WALT MATAN
We’ve had many good days on the ice. We’ve caught crappie, bluegill, catfish, walleye, white bass, northern pikexyou name it, we’ve caught it. But, we can count days that can truly be called BIG, only a few times.
A big day is one, where you can do no wrong. Every decision you makes, leads to fish. The weather cooperates to, the wind doesn’t howl, maybe a light snow, but never rain or sleet. Your gear works right. Augers start right up, lines don’t twist or break you’re your fish locators battery doesn’t run out of juice.
Last year I had a big day with my buddy cowboy Kevin. In the first hour of ice fishing I caught a 42” flathead catfish on two-pound test while bluegill fishing. That fish turned out to be a world record! But that didn’t make it a big day. We ended up moving our shack about a mile down the lake and ended up catching the biggest bluegills of the season! Later that night, the story of how I caught that giant catfish was a lot sweeter over a plate of tasty bluegill.
Another time we were up on Lake Winnebago with my buddy and ice fishing guide Troy, “Mr. Bluegill” Peterson (www.mrbluegill.com) and we caught some nice walleye in the morning, perch in the afternoon and white bass until dark. We remained mobile and when each of the bites we were on stopped, Try called other guides on the lake and got GPS coordinates from them and we moved to new hot areas, completely changed presentations and caught a great mixed bag of fish. We kept fishing hard all day because we knew it would be our last trip to Winnebagoxit turned out to be our best trip ever.
In order to have “The Big Day”, you need to be prepared. You need to have the right gear for your day on the ice, everything needs to be in its place and you need to be able to move to new areas at a moments notice. Let’s take a look at what you might need to have “The Big Day”.
It all starts with jigs. You need a variety of sizes and colors for all species. Custom Jigs & Spins Ratsos, Shrimpos, Demons should be used for panfish. I’ll use larger sized Ratfinkees and Demons for Walleye. Plus, I need a good supply of Slender Spoons and Demon Jigging spoons when the crappie, white bass and walleye are on the prowl near dark. Changing jigs to a totally different look is often the key to catching fish.
Keeping all your jigs in watertight small tackle boxes that are clearly labeled will help you get to the jigs you need quickly. Label the boxes by species, lure size or lure style with a waterproof marker. Finally, have one go-to box with your favorites for quick picking. You can pick up some nice boxes from Custom Jigs & Spins (www.customjigs.com)
Frabill makes some nice prepackaged rod and reel combos. Their Panfish Popper Series have a lure pack with Custom Jigs & Spins lures included. Their Ice Hunter series has combos specifically for walleye, crappie and bluegill (the 26” quick tip is the Walt & Poppee model).
I built a nice rod holder out of a plastic battery case and small PVC tubes cut to fit, that holds my combos rigged and ready to fish. Frabill’s Trekker ice tent has a flip over design that makes mobility easy. The Trekkers sled base lets you easily stow all your gear like a Strikemaster auger, Humminbird locator, ice scoop, minnow bucket, Custom Jigs, Mr. Heater, Strikemaste Bait Pucks and snacks. Be sure to get the cover and tow bar for ATV or snowmobile travel.
Once you are rigged and ready, you can set up a base camp and drill a bunch of holes to check out the area thoroughly. If you don’t see fish within 30 minutes on the Humminbird, it’s time to move. Have a game plan that includes several areas that you intend to fish. Many times we’ve loaded all our gear back in the truck and changed lakes! Many times that big move has turned an average day into a BIG DAY!
Walt & Poppee Matan have developed dozens of styles of ice jigs over the years. Custom Jigs & Spins is the largest manufacturer of ice jigs in the world; chances are you’ve got a few in your tackle box!
For more information on ice fishing and for a free Custom Jigs & Spins Tips and Tricks catalog call 1-800-831-5535 or log on to www.customjigs.com and then check out Frabill’s ice gear at www.frabill.com.