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#48629 - 11/14/13 02:12 PM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
warpsyrhead Offline
Newbie

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1
Loc: St. Paul, MN
Mid-November...Ugh, forget Summer, where the heck did Fall go?!?

I've got the day off work tomorrow, supposed to be in the 40's. Where should I fish in the metro area? No boat though, so shore fishing suggestions please.
Thanks!

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#51129 - 01/20/14 07:56 PM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN
Whew... I apologize for the lack of reports... been a whirlwind of a couple months! Safe to say ice fishing season is definitely in full swing and we're having a banner year for Metro Area ice conditions! We've been driving out for a month and fishing has been pretty good. A lot of panfish and pike, some walleye.

I've hit everything from Prior Lake to Rush Lake and quite a few lakes in between. The shallow bite seems to stay consistent all over, with a lot of fish coming from 6-12 feet with weeds presence. You can do well out deeper, but I've found the bigger fish to be holding shallower and in the weeds... hard bottom in the weeds can play an important role at times too.

Run and gun has been the approach, where staying mobile is the only way to constantly catch fish on some bites. Small moves too, which actually makes things odd. Move, move, move... but only make small moves at times. The shallow fish are not making big moves, but sitting in one spot hasn't paid off lately.

As far as baits go... plastics without a doubt. I've been using the Clam Maki Spiiki and Draggi for a good majority of my fish as of late. Rigged on a size 12 Clam Pro Tackle Drop Jig and away we go! If needed, I'll go down to a size 14 in the shallow water if the fish need the extra coaxing.

The main inconsistency so far this season has been the weather, which I'm sure we can all relate to. Just today for example the weather started at 28 degrees at 7:30am then ended up at around 9 degrees when we left the lake around 3pm... seems like the "norm" for this year, LOL.

I plan to hit a handful of different lakes in the next few weeks so I will try and keep everyone updated... hopefully see a bunch more of you on the ice too! Stop by and say hi if you see me out there! Good luck!
_________________________
Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Guided Open Water and Ice Fishing
www.MattJohnsonOutdoors.com

Ice Team - "Join the Team!"
www.IceTeam.com

Ultimate Panfish League
www.UltimatePanfishLeague.com

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#51140 - 01/22/14 11:04 AM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN
Medicine Lake has actually been kicking out some decent fish. Some fish in the weeds out there but a more consistent bite out in 18-23 feet of water. Just another one of those situations where things are not consistent this year.

We found that live bait has actually been a deterrent from catching fish... where going to a plastic instead has drastically increased the catch-rate...




Clam Pro Tackle Drop Jig tipped with a Maki Draggi has been a hot option as of late. Works on both crappies and gills...




Not sure why exactly these fish are favoring plastics, but we've proved it on many different situations. We had a live minnow down there without a bump... live maggots without much action... then tie on a plastic and wham! I think they are looking to actually crush a bait instead of be force fed. Only fish we've seen dart up to grab a bait has been those fish chasing the plastic. All the live bait fish rise up, sit and stare, then lower back down. Even aggressively jigging maggots hasn't paid off... definitely a plastics bite right now...

We've played around with a variety of different styles... straight tails, creature baits, minnow tails... and the creature/insect type baits have been out-performing the rest. Tentacles and obscene tactics have triggered these fish lately! I'll take it!!

With the recent cold weather we've seen a decrease in fish activity though, so it's not like the bite is crazy fast... I would imagine a nice flurry of activity on Friday when we hit 30 degrees again, only to go back down into single digits this weekend, LOL...

Good luck out there!
_________________________
Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Guided Open Water and Ice Fishing
www.MattJohnsonOutdoors.com

Ice Team - "Join the Team!"
www.IceTeam.com

Ultimate Panfish League
www.UltimatePanfishLeague.com

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#51185 - 02/04/14 11:11 AM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN
Gotta love the weather in MN! One day it's 30, the next day it's -10! The theme of this season continues to be "inconsistency" as far as I'm concerned. That goes for not only the weather, but fish behavior and locational patterns as well. One day here, next day gone!

The last week or so has presented some challenges in regards to mobility on the ice and staying on top of fish. Mostly due to the weather and cold/wind. Staying hunkered down inside a Fish Trap has been the norm lately. Although it was zero degrees, sunny and no wind on Sunday and it felt darn good outside... enough to run around on the ice instead of inside a shack... amazing how we've become acclimated to the cold so when it's 0 and no wind we think it's warm!! smile

With the limitations on mobility, I've looked to specific structural spots, where I can sit in one spot longer and increase our percentages of catching (and staying) on fish. Abrupt inside turns... isolated rock piles... depressions... spots that attract fish more and don't rely on migrating fish. Deep basins usually hold a lot of roaming fish where they just circle, I've been honing in on spots where fish are more apt to just stay put. We've still had to move a handful of times everyday, but we've been limited on the "hole-hopping" bite on some occasions.

Another big key to keeping fish in an area is to drop down a minnow. I don't care if the fish are not biting minnows, I'm just using this as an attractor to help keep fish in the area, and interested. A fleeing minnow draws fish in and with oftentimes keep them there. Same with a set of Reel Weeds... which have been getting a workout lately too! If you're going to sit and put, then you might as well increase your odds.

Weed fish have also been important. Finding the green weeds has helped, especially with the ice thickness and lower light levels below the ice. The shallows are being "pressed" and the fish are feeling that. Green weeds have been a critical part of the equation for many of my recent bites. Finding pockets and/or depressions in the green weeds have been gold lately too... one of those spots I've been sitting on when the weather turns cold and mobility is decreased.

I've played around with the deeper holes a little, but I've seen a big influx of smaller fish out there lately. A lot of wheelhouses staging themselves in these deeper holes and the pressure in those areas is definitely picking up. More wheelhouses on the ice this year as well. Either punch around the out-skirting areas on these spots or just leave them alone... unless you're one of the wheelhouses then get inside and cozy-up smile

As far as presentations go... plastics continue to do well but maggots have been used quite often once we step into that sit-and-put mode. Size 12 and 14 Clam Drop jigs tipped with two maggots has claimed victim to a lot of fish lately. We've also cut down a variety of plastics to finesse some of these fish too. Fish become more wary of the offering so finesse tactics definitely come into play. Line watching and/or spring bobbers have been important--and necessary.

As far as future predictions... it looks like the weather might warm up a little (for highs) otherwise we can expect a good shot at below zero temps for lows throughout the next week or so. My advice... grab a lake map or pull out the GPS and plan a few productive spots before you hit the ice. Look for promising spots where you might be able to hunker down and target some fish, at least for the early morning hours. Then once the afternoon sun gets out you can play the mobility game and chase them fish down!!
_________________________
Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Guided Open Water and Ice Fishing
www.MattJohnsonOutdoors.com

Ice Team - "Join the Team!"
www.IceTeam.com

Ultimate Panfish League
www.UltimatePanfishLeague.com

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#51240 - 02/10/14 03:23 PM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN
The weather continues to play a role in fishing, but that only refers to one aspect... even though the mobility portion is limited, the bite is actually heating up. We've been finding a much more consistent bite lately and I believe the fish are finally getting acclimated to the weather! LOL

Hunkering down in the weed pockets continue to produce fish, both sunfish and crappies. A bunch of panfish still holding out in the deeper holes too and that seems to be where a lot of the fishing traffic has been. I've also been fishing a few shallower lakes where the basin tops out at 17-18 feet and the fish are just roaming those depths. I've found a few depressions and/or humps and the fish have been holding to those areas (or at least cycling through must faster).

A few walleyes have been coming off the initial breaks, namely that 13-18 foot mark (nighttime). We haven't really targeted pike lately, but had a couple smaller fish tag our panfish jigs. I've seen a lot of anglers plunking away with tip-ups and from the looks of things there have been a lot of flags going up, so there are some opportunities for pike.

However, the trick lately has been big panfish near the weeds. And when I say "near" the weeds I mean right next to them. I've been punching holes over shallower weed flats and once I find the THICK vegetation I back off to that weed line where things begin to sparse out. I've noticed a lot of fish holding on that immediate edge and those fish seem to be bigger. They also cycle through pretty fast in these spots too so you can sit still for a while. It's been pretty consistent on a few different lakes. Oh, and it can be a night bite too... so you don't have to mess with the "crowds" out in deeper water smile




Overall the bite has been decent lately. I think once we get this warm-up this weekend things will really take off. Finally some weather we can enjoy being outside in!! Good luck out there!!
_________________________
Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Guided Open Water and Ice Fishing
www.MattJohnsonOutdoors.com

Ice Team - "Join the Team!"
www.IceTeam.com

Ultimate Panfish League
www.UltimatePanfishLeague.com

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#51248 - 02/11/14 12:48 PM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
Mojo1269 Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 2015
Loc: Twin Cities
Those Ice Team Hoodies are cool Matt... Are they sold to the general population or a "team" thing?
_________________________
No point in playing if you dont swing for the fences every once in a while.

Life is too short to use crappy gear.

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#51283 - 02/21/14 08:23 AM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Mojo1269]
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN
Originally Posted By: Mojo1269
Those Ice Team Hoodies are cool Matt... Are they sold to the general population or a "team" thing?

Those are custom for the Ice Team unfortunately. We do have other options though Tim. Shoot me an email.
_________________________
Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Guided Open Water and Ice Fishing
www.MattJohnsonOutdoors.com

Ice Team - "Join the Team!"
www.IceTeam.com

Ultimate Panfish League
www.UltimatePanfishLeague.com

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#51284 - 02/21/14 08:23 AM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN
Finally some warm weather recently, which made things a lot easier for hole hopping and staying on top of fish. I'm not sure if the fish activity level really changed much, but having the ability to move more turned the days into more successful fishing trips. Now instead of hunkering down over likely structure (because of below zero temps) we could actually run and gun covering a larger spread of holes. Made for chasing those pods of fish a lot easier and the end result meant more fish on the ice.

Tactics continued to stay the same. Weed orientated fish were still important. Most of the bites recently have been in and/or around weeds. I ventured into some deeper water but ended up back in the weeds fairly quick. Just seems like the bigger fish are relating to the weeds, at least in the Metro Area. Pockets in the weeds... depressions amongst expansive weed beds... weed lines... seems like the common variable is weeds in some fashion.

I've also been playing around with more natural colors for presentations. The glow reds still have their place, don't get me wrong, but the more natural motoroil, browns and even blacks have caught a lot of fish lately in the weeds. Seems like I'm getting more "biters" when using natural colors instead of the brighter, glow colors. This is in reference to a daytime bite too. The nighttime bite has continued to demand a glow offering. So number 12 or 10 size jigs tipped with a plastic and sometimes a maggot or two, has done the trick.

One important tip for these weed fish... make sure to fish the ENTIRE water column, especially in shallower water. I know it's hard to not plummet your jig down to the level where the fish are at, but I encourage you to feather it down the entire water column. I've caught SO MANY fish right below the ice lately, even is 10-13 feet of water. If you scream your jig past the upper-third of the water column then you might be missing some valuable opportunities to catch some decent fish. All of my better crappies as of late have come within 3-5 feet below the ice in 8-10 feet of water. If you drop down to the bottom then you won't catch those fish.

Otherwise it looks like mother nature gave us another blast of winter. The warm weather was great for a while, now we have an nice blanket of snow over the entire area again and temps are going to drop for the next week... gotta love MN!!!

For those who venture out there, please be safe. If you plan to drive off the plowed roads then bring a tow strap and fish with a buddy (two trucks smile ). Have fun and good luck!
_________________________
Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Guided Open Water and Ice Fishing
www.MattJohnsonOutdoors.com

Ice Team - "Join the Team!"
www.IceTeam.com

Ultimate Panfish League
www.UltimatePanfishLeague.com

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#51295 - 02/24/14 07:22 AM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
Mojo1269 Offline
Extreme Angler

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 2015
Loc: Twin Cities
Originally Posted By: Matt Johnson
Originally Posted By: Mojo1269
Those Ice Team Hoodies are cool Matt... Are they sold to the general population or a "team" thing?

Those are custom for the Ice Team unfortunately. We do have other options though Tim. Shoot me an email.


Done..
_________________________
No point in playing if you dont swing for the fences every once in a while.

Life is too short to use crappy gear.

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#51429 - 03/14/14 11:24 AM Re: Recent Reports and Pictures [Re: Matt Johnson]
Matt Johnson Offline
Thorne Bros Pro Staff

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 3817
Loc: Ramsey, MN
Yes, it's true... we had weather in the 40s and 50s! Maybe not always the best news for the die hard ice anglers but at least the time spent on the ice the last week or so has been very comfortable! Good news though is that the ice is not going away yet. From what I've seen we still have great ice conditions out there and many more opportunities to get out and ice fish. While some of the snow is melting on top of the ice, the actual ice itself is holding on strong. A few messy areas near some of the accesses and throughout some of the plowed road areas but otherwise it's not horrible. I haven't been all over the Metro but the lakes I've hit on the north side have been consistent. I plan to hit the Chisago area again this weekend in search of some panfish.

I've seen some activity in the shallow water but to be honest the best bite has been in that 18-25 foot range lately. Not sure why exactly but some of my better shallow spots have not been producing but when I move out a little deeper to those areas I'm finding fish. That's been consistent on a few different lakes. Also seems like those fish are more eager to bite too. Just make sure you punch a lot of holes and be willing to move. These fish are not staying put and you catch a couple good fish out of each hole and that's it... even though you still see fish on the Vexilar after you catch a couple good ones I've noticed you need to still move. If you drop a camera down there you will see the pod of inactive fish and then the few that are moving faster... I want those faster fish smile

As far as presentations go, it's been a solid plastics/artificials bite for me. Maki plastics on a tungsten jig head and away we go. I've still been stuck on that Clam Drop Jig and either Spiiki or Draggi Maki plastic. Color options have been all over the place too, I just think you need to get the bait down and in front of the fish's face. Biggest key though is to stay on the move and chase the fish... if you sit in one spot you'll be fishing negative fish more often than not... or at least waiting for more active fish to circle back through. Get out and enjoy the weather and chase the fish down.

Outside of the Metro, I recently spent some time up on Leech Lake and some of the smaller surrounding lakes chasing perch, sunfish and crappies. The bite up there is similar... where the need to constantly move is the name of the game. If you wanted to catch the bigger fish then you needed to continue to drop down new holes and freshen things up. And that went for all the species and lakes we targeted.

Here's a shot of a couple nice slabs Jeff Andersen and I hoisted for the camera...



Both of those fish came on Clam Drop Jigs and Maki plastics. Only way we caught these better fish was to move until we marked fish and continually dropping down new holes to pull the bigger ones out of the group. Gotta love late ice crappie fishing!

Looking at the forecast we're going to have a lot more comfortable weather coming our way. Not too warm either, but warm enough to run around outside of the Fish Trap and chase down fish. I like seeing 20s and 30s for highs, because that means it won't be a soupy mess out there but you can still be effective. My advice... get out a chase down some fish this weekend! Enjoy yourselves and be safe out there!
_________________________
Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Guided Open Water and Ice Fishing
www.MattJohnsonOutdoors.com

Ice Team - "Join the Team!"
www.IceTeam.com

Ultimate Panfish League
www.UltimatePanfishLeague.com

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