By Steve Weisman
Ice continues to gain in depth by the day on the Iowa Great Lakes. I was on Miller’s Bay on West Okoboji this morning, and there was a consistent 10 inches or so. My son-in-law was on the middle of Big Spirit and had anywhere from 10-13 inches.
A lot of it has to do with the snowdrifts on Big Spirit.
Even though the ice has only been good for about 10 days, I think we are already past the “early” ice stage.
I’m a bluegill fanatic, and I love to fish the clear water bays of West Okoboji. I’ve fished Little Emerson, Little Miller’s Bay and Miller’s Bay with good success, but the bite is changing daily.
On Little Emerson, you will find the water to be a bit more cloudy, so you can’t sight fish as easily. Hence, the use of a Vexilar or Scout Underwater Camera. I fished Little Emerson twice, using a #12 white (glow) Rat Finke that I charged to help make it easier to detect. I then used a piece of purple plastic.
Over the course of 2 hours, I ended up keeping 14 nice gills with the largest one pushing 10 inches in length, several over 9 inches and all over 8 inches. It took a really tight jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, jiggle to get the fish to bite.
It was easy to tell it was early ice, because although the bluegills didn’t come flying in, they came in at a steady clip and readily bit!
Of course, I blew some really good fish by, you know the usual, setting the hook to soon and too late and just plain getting caught daydreaming!
I returned on Friday and ended up with a limit of nice gills.
By the 23rd, it was like somebody had opened the gates! By 8 a.m. on Saturday, nearly 40 anglers were already on Little Emerson. That weekend I went to Angler’s Bay on Big Spirit and caught 16 nice gills using the same baits.
By Christmas, the ice on Little Miller’s Bay was good, and boy were the big gills in the shallows. They ran up to 10” and would readily bite. Since it was only 4’ down, they looked HUGE below the ice!
However, by the weekend, that bite had really slowed, partially because of all of the commotion on the ice.
Then this morning (Dec. 31st), I went to the hump on Miller’s Bay. The gills and crappies were both there, but they were really finicky. After an hour of sniffers and lookers, I put away the 2-pound test and the Rat Finke, and I went to 1-pound test and the smallest Fiska I could find. I went away from live bait and tipped the Fiska with a piece of purple plastic.
Bingo! In an hour I had 15 fish!
To me, that’s kind of the way later clear water ice fishing is. Anyway, that’s the latest report I have on bluegill fishing on West Okoboji.
See you on the ice!