By Brian “Bro” Brosdahl
Early ice is a great time to get out for walleyes when they’re active and biting just like they did in Fall. Although the ice isn’t forming quite yet, it’s not too soon to start planning. Now is the time to make sure you’re ready to go when the ice is.
These are my top 4 fishing tips for early ice walleyes:
- Think light.
Early ice means I’m probably walking and carrying my gear so I want to pack light. Frabill hub shelters fit my early ice style of fishing; I can carry it on my back like a backpack and the pop-up style is so easy for quick up and down. This winter, the new Fortress is my go-to because the bottom actually kicks out providing more stability, more floor space for equipment, and more room to fish.
- Find a good spot.
Finding a good spot is just like setting up a deer stand – you need to find where they’re moving. Walleyes move through weed edges, rock piles and steep drop-offs so I use my Aqua-Vu and Humminbird to check out the entire area for pathways where they are swimming. Areas like the edge of a weedbed or a shoreline-connected point facing deep open water is a good spot to set up.
- Get set.
The key is to make sure you have all your holes drilled at least one hour before dark so that the walleyes can swim through naturally. I start by punching my holes on the edge of a drop-off with some holes a bit deeper than others. Then I set my Fortress Hub and wait. When the walleyes swim through, I’m ready.
- Jig and deadstick.
In Minnesota (and many other states during the winter), I can run my deadstick and jig at the same time. For jigging, I offer early ice walleyes a Northland Glo-Shot Rattle Spoon with a minnow head on a Frabill Bro Series 28” medium with 7 pound test Fluorocarbon line. Here’s how I deadstick: I use a Bro Series 28” Deadstick with live bait – a tail-hooked chub or shiner. I’ll set that about a foot off the bottom and tuck the line into the Bro Band to gently hold the line on the reel with an open bail. When the fish grabs the minnow, it can run with it because the line easily slides out of the Bro Band. The extra softness of the rod allows the walleye to take the bait farther and gives me more time to grab the rod and set the hook.
When the temps start dropping, I’m getting my gear ready for that early ice walleye bite. I’m also hitting the road for the annual Bro Roadshow. Click here for the complete 2018-2019 Bro Roadshow schedule. I look forward to talking ice! See you there!
About the Author:
Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, of Max, Minn., is one of the most recognized and respected anglers in North America. He is a multi-species angler best known for his influence on the sport of ice fishing; several popular ice fishing products are based on his ideas. Bro makes frequent store and event appearances. The audience is always impressed that the knowledgeable and good-natured guy they see in the media is the same in person.