Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Ice Fishing

As a tournament ice angler, you get very busy, in a very short period of time. Its obvious you can't ice fish without ice, so when it happens its game on. It does not leave much time to stop and smell the ice crystals if you know what I mean.

In 2012 I will be traveling to 6 wonderful cities across the ice belt, and also across the world to Kazakhstan for the World Ice fishing Championships. From January 8th-March 4th I have one weekend home, not fishing in a tournament. It does not leave a lot of time to get out and fun fish, so I had to do it early
This past Christmas eve day I gave myself that chance to fun fish with a couple of special guests. My Father and my Brother accompanied me on the ice Saturday. It was the first time my brother, August, had been ice fishing in what we could think of was 15 years. My Dad and I seem to get out once a year together. None of  us live very close to each other, my Dad loves to fish, but keeps himself extremely busy, and my brother really isn't much of a fishermen.

Saturday morning was a perfect morning for ice fishing in so many ways. The pressure was steady, the solar/lunar calendar pegged it as the best day of the month to fish, and when we arrived on the lake we found no one had drilled a hole yet! Nothing! 4" of virgin ice with just a light snow cover on top.

We brought the hand auger out, be it a very fast / expensive hand auger and I started to drill holes as I do (20-30 at a time). When I was finished drilling I gave August an instructional on how the flasher worked so he could see fish, we grabbed a bucket for him and placed him in 9 feet of water with standing weed 3 feet high. The fish were there, but it took August a bit to get the hang of jigging, then setting the hook. He moved to a couple different holes and I came over once again to help him out. I talked him through the process and BAM! He hooks up with his first fish! That was a moment and a smile I will never forget! After that, he had it down, moving from hole to hole, catching fish after fish.

August caught the biggest fish of the day, a 11" Largemouth Bass and also added to the catch we brought home of a few bluegills and a perch. My Dad did well for himself too, I don't have to coach him at all, I just rig his rod the night before and send him off, no matter what, he catches fish.

I had a great day too, not only sharing the joy of August catching fish, and fishing with my family, but I did well fishing too.

The fish (mostly Bluegill) wanted all meat, tried plastics but there didn't seem to react. Orange HT tungsten Marmooksajigs tipped with 2 red spikes worked well for my Dad and August. I was using my Jonttu Palm Rods with a Russian Mormyshka tungsten jig tipped with 2 red spikes.

Good Luck fishing!!- Jeff

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NAIFC Championship-2011

Every Once Counts, that’s the North American Ice Fishing Circuit’s motto and it could not be more true.

The NAIFC Championship was held in Rhinelander, WI December 16-18th with 45 teams of two anglers competing for the title of national champion. This was our teams second championship.

So many thoughts run through your head when trying to get ready for a tournament, but getting ready for the nationals is even more grueling. You want to do well at every event, that’s why you compete at this level, but the championship is so much more. The checks are larger and the rings look great on anyone, plus you can call yourself the champion.

We approached this weekend as prepared as we were going get. We purchased the best mapping units available for these bodies of water and we did some back study on the lakes from previous tournaments held in the same locations. The information we gathered last year for fishing the first lake of the championship, Lake Thompson, was extremely valuable. We knew where we caught fish before, and we knew where others would concentrate their efforts. We managed to stay away from the large crowds and didn’t have to fight for the spots we wanted to fish in our game plan.

We fished a crib first thing Saturday morning which during pre fishing produced some average bluegills and even a couple of kicker crappies. On tournament day the Crappies were not found but the bluegills were still present and hungry. Within the first 45 minutes of the tournament we had caught the 8 gills we were willing to register and we were off to find crappies.

The crappies we had found while pre fishing were not large, but average size (8-9”) for Lake Thompson. They were in multiple places, we just had to pick where we thought we would catch a few heavier fish.

That’s one thing people sometimes don’t take into consideration when they ask us how big the fish we caught are. Most are hung up on length of the fish, we are by far more concerned with weight. I would much rather have a fat 8” crappie then a skinny 11” any tournament day ever! Folks are not as impressed by the length, but Every Ounce Counts is not just a slogan here.

The crappies we found were very aggressive, but did not yield a lot of weight and we knew we would have to spend the day upgrading fish. It was brought to our attention while we were fishing that few teams plan for a successful day. The plans are always for if something doesn’t work, and for us that morning, everything worked according to plan within the first hour and a half of the day. For just a minute we were left scratching our heads asking ourselves what do we do now? We have a our fish, not what. We did spent all day exploring or “trolling” the lake for upgrades to the fish we had in our bucket. We finished day one registering our maximum 16 fish, 8 crappies, 8 bluegills with a total weight of 4.23 lbs. Setting us up in 9th place for the day.

The game plan for Sunday was to fish the deep water basins for crappies for at least the first couple hours of the day. We were confident we could get into the sloughs and back waters to pick up bluegills, but crappies are the weight in the competition. The spot we wanted to fish in the main basin of the lake was thought to b a popular spot, we were 32nd in line and did not think it would be open for us to get to. Fortunately when we arrived, there was plenty of room directly over where we caught our fish while pre-fishing. Once time allowed we began to fish fast, even Adam was jumping from hole to hole every couple minutes, which is rare for him, he is much more patient with a hole than I. It did not take long to pick off fish. Adam carried us Sunday, he had the right touch to hook up with the deep water crappies. Within one hour we had 11 fish in the bucket and we where off to the slough to catch bluegills.

We had a bluegill “spot” in the slough picked out, no one was there while we were pre fishing and no one was there now either. We rolled in, drilled our holes and in no time I was catching bluegills, not giants but good enough for us. It was not long into searching these holes when we started to catch crappies out of them, in fact these were upgrades for us. We were astounded, the game plan we laid out worked and we had all the fish we could have asked for within the first hour and a half for the second time in a weekend.

We spent the rest of the Sunday riding back and forth from the slough to the main basin to upgrade fish, which we did numerous times.

Day two came to a close at 2:00pm Sunday. With weigh-in starting around 4 it was a anxious wait to find out how our finals totals were.

The second day yielded 6.71 lbs. of fish for our team, giving us a 7th place finish overall in the championship. We were floored! Our goal was top 15, to finish 7th was outstanding.

Congrats to Myron Gilbert and Dave Ellis for the win, you guys had great bags of fish and are super good fishermen.

Fish on day one were hitting a couple of things. White and orange HT Marmooska jig tipped with a chartreuse plastic tail and a orange and black HT Marnooska jig tipped with Copper colored Ice Mite from J and S Custom Jigs.

Day two fish came on a large mix. Going with a big presentation was key for the crappies in the basin, Magnum Ice Mites from J and S Custom Jigs worked the best. The gills and crappies in the slough came on the regular Ice Mites in a wide range of colors.

Good luck fishing!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Outdoors Radio with Dan Small (Dec 9th-16th)

Exclusive to podcast and FM 100.5 ESPN broadcast: guide Ron Barefield reports muskie action on the Madison chain is slowing down as winter nears and early-season ice fishing should be good for panfish on lakes Monona, Mendota and Wisconsin. Fred Nickel, director of parks, recreation and trails for Adams County reports on snowmobiling, ice fishing and other winter activities in Adams County, Wisconsin. ( Tom Gruenwald, of HT Enterprises, reports on last weekends St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show and talks about new HT products for this season. ( Gary Eddy, ATV and snowmobile administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, shares some safety tips for early-season ice fishing. ( To enter this weeks drawing for a Jiffy Full Ice Auger Case - fits any power auger, a $70 value. Later this winter, well give away a Jiffy Model 30 power auger. ( Give us a call at 414-297-7554 and leave your name, phone number and mention the Jiffy giveaway, or email us at
To begin listening to the show, click on the player in the upper left hand portion of the page. Enjoy!