By Steve Weisman
For many area ice anglers, Saturday, November 16 “unofficially” kicked off the upcoming ice season with the Shop with the Pros day at Kabele’s Trading Post in Spirit Lake.
Tanya and Thane Johnson were ecstatic with the results of the day. “We appreciate all the support from our customers, pro-staffers and everyone that made our event a success. It was an overwhelming turnout with approximately 350-400 people in attendance throughout the day. Most people stayed all day, listened to each seminar and had a brisket lunch. We even had Jason Mitchell autograph a few items for our newly remodeled store. The event exceeded our expectations.”
As one of the seminar speakers, I can attest to the enthusiasm of those in attendance. It was pretty much nonstop visiting with people talking amongst themselves, browsing and looking over the new equipment, talking with the seven pro staffers from Clam Outdoors, Ice Team, Ice Force, Rassat Outdoor Group/13 Fishing and Striker Ice and finally taking part in three different seminars.
It was especially fun for me, because my grandson, Hunter spent the day with me. Nothing beats that type of opportunity! Plus, it was great talking with so many of the visitors about everything from pheasant hunting, to duck hunting, to the Hawkeyes and the upcoming Michigan game, to the sad state of affairs with the Vikings to…oh yes, lots of talk about the reason we were there: ice fishing.
As I reflect back on the day, two key points stand out from two of the seminars, one by Jason Mitchell and the other by John Grosvenor.
Mitchell, a Clam Outdoors and Ice Team pro staffer, hosts the highly acclaimed outdoor program, Jason Mitchell Outdoors that airs across the Midwest on Fox Sports North and Fox Sport Midwest channels. In addition, Mitchell has earned a renowned reputation as a top walleye guide on North Dakota’s Devils Lake often guiding well over 250 days on the water and ice each season.
Although he shared lots of info during his two presentations, the one that really struck home with me was about perch fishing. For the most part, perch are known as a schooling fish. If you find one, there are more than likely others around. Mitchell’s tip had to do with getting perch into a feeding frenzy. “Normally, when people catch a perch, they reel it right up the hole, because I know they are excited and don’t want the fish to get off.”
Mitchell does just the opposite. “I want the perch that is on my line to attract more perch. Often they will be there but out off to the side. So, what I do is reel the perch up a few cranks and then stop. The perch will be darting all over, which I find will often bring other perch in closer. When that happens, you need to reel the perch up and get right back down to the rest of the school. If these fish are in a frenzy, they will come up to the lure. This is not a time to be slow about getting the lure back down. You need to capitalize on the school right now!”
Grosvenor, an Ice Force and Berkley pro staffer, has his own guiding service (JTG Expeditions) on the Okoboji chain of lakes. Grosvenor’s tip had to do with sight fishing for bluegills. He noted that a lot of anglers will let their bait right down to the bottom, especially if they see bluegills on the bottom. His tip was to resist that temptation.
“I always fish the entire water column starting at the top when the bait gets below the ice. Work the lure, because there are fish off to the side that you can’t even see. Work the lure slowly down. I know it’s hard to do because you see the bluegills on the bottom. Think of it this way. The bluegill’s natural food doesn’t drop like a rock to the bottom. You will have better luck if you work it down slowly!”
Those are just two of the many tips Mitchell and Grosvenor provided their audiences. The more we listen to the successful techniques of other anglers, the better anglers we can be ourselves.