March 27th, 2015
Trinity, Ho-ly – Three Lure Styles that Do it Allby JP Bushey March 18, 2014
No matter where you jig or for what, here’s 3 lure styles that do it all
What a season for ice and ice fishing! I’m always surprised when fishermen idle down their ice fishing attack by mid-March. Ice is typically at its peak thickness and safety and the days are long. Travel on lakes and hi-ways is easier. Warmer and more comfortable days are finally here for good. On top of all that, some of the winter’s best fish activity is happening right now. If you’ve suffered and slogged through January and February, you owe it to yourself to enjoy beautiful, late-season weather and jigging opportunities.
Regardless of what seasons are open or closed near you, there’s always something biting. My boat and long rods can stay away for a while yet, there’s lots more jigging to do. Buddies of mine in NW Ontario are releasing some beautiful pike, whitefish and walleye right now and in south/central Ontario, lake trout, panfish and ling are all motoring along. No matter where guys are fishing, myself included, the same three styles of lures keeping popping up year after year. Trends come and go, but here’s three you can’t be without. Vary the sizes, colours and how you fish them, and what I’ve come to know as ‘The Holy Trinity’ will treat you right.
Tube Jigs: Probably the most universal and consistent soft plastic ever created for vertical jigging. You can set up a tube to pound bottom in 80-ft of water, to jiggle around shallow weeds or to ‘pop and drop’ anywhere in between. Whether fish are running down and crushing lures or totally negative, a tube will catch them. That’s a pretty amazing claim, and one very few lures can make. You can rig up and fish tubes to imitate anything fish eat, from long, greasy smelts to tiny insects. And there’s amazing crossover, with lure size. ‘Micro-sized’ baits from 1 to 2 inches are under-used for lake trout and whitefish. Of course, they’re perfect for crappie, perch and herring, also. Jiggling a tube in place or hanging it motionless can be more than enough. Just as many fish eat tubes for me on the way down the hole or while just sitting there as they do when I actively jig them. A 3″ tube is a fantastic, ‘multi-tool’ bait that brings lots to the party.
Swimming, ‘Horizontal Plugs:’ This is a huge family of lures that seems to grow every season. Any baitfish-shaped lure that hangs horizontally at rest qualifies. Jigging Rapalas, Salmo Chubby Darters, Lindy Darters and a range of rattlebaits, like you’d cast for bass, all work. Fast-sinking for their size, these lures open up a whole other range of triggers for fish. They sit with a natural attitude in the water and you can dress them up with live bait, in cases. And let’s not forget their options for sound, flash and colour. Plugs have got to be where lure companies have gotten the most realistic in recent years. I can safely say that you could parachute me onto just about any lake that freezes with a two inch Jigging Rapala on eight pound mono and I could catch almost every available species. From The Great Lakes to Western Canada to tiny bush lakes, vertical plugs will catch whatever’s under you.
‘Flasher’ Spoons: The gold standard here is definitely the old, Williams Whitefish and Ice Jig. Recently, myself and others have also been experimenting with more traditional, trolling-style flutter spoons, too. Flash, vibration and the ability to tip with scented trailers is part of what makes these lures so good. For calling fish over to you, nothing beats a spoon. Moving fast and ‘prospecting’ on new spots, I’ve got a Williams Ice Jig tied on most of the winter. The best lures can be worked over a range of strokes and maintain that beautiful, flashing fall. Adding in natural scent from either whole minnows or minnow pieces kicks up your spoon that much more. Small grubs or tubes work, as well. Most fishermen assume spoons are mainly for big lake trout or pike. Don’t limit yourself. Scaled-back versions tipped with real or artificial larvae are great for panfish. When these little guys spread out in deep water (both laterally and vertically) high-flash spoons become a great tool. Even if they won’t hit it, watch for them on your graph and then feed them a different lure. For lake trout, there’s nothing better than having your shoulder rocked out of socket, ripping around a spoon. With baitfish like smelts ganging up at late ice, they traditionally get really hot.
And there you have it. Don’t break the bank and don’t go wild chasing all kinds of fads or rumours. If you do any amount of ice fishing, you’ve likely already got samples from the Holy Trinity in your boxes. The more fishing I do, the more and more I realize how unnecessary straying from the basics really is, most of thee time. These groupings of lures will get your rods bent. There’s still plenty of time left on the clock, go nail a nice one!
JP Bushey is a multi-species, multi-season fisherman living in Barrie, Ontario. North-Central Ontario’s ‘big water’ is where he spends most of his time, from his home waters of Georgian Bay to The Great Lakes, Lake Nipissing and The French River. JP’s been a freelance fishing contributor for over fifteen years, and enjoys helping people to improve their fishing through his articles, speaking engagements and on-the-water instruction.
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JP Bushey is a multi-species, multi-season fisherman living in Barrie, Ontario. North-Central Ontario’s ‘big water’ is where he spends most of his time, from his home waters of Georgian Bay to The Great Lakes, Lake Nipissing and The French River. JP’s been a freelance fishing contributor for over fifteen years, and enjoys helping people to improve their fishing through his articles, speaking engagements and on-the-water instruction.More by JP Bushey