Ice Off Lake Fishing 2
Spring is finally here for most of us or should at least be right around the corner. For those looking for a chance at fast fishing and huge trout Spring means getting out for some fast and furious ice off lake fishing. Find out when the ice is melting on your favorite big trout lake and you can catch some of the biggest fish you'll catch all year. Here are a few tactics to maximize your chances of catching monster Spring trout.
Find lakes that still have partial ice cover and fish the edges. Fish get used to being under the ice out of the direct sun and so when it melts it takes them a while to want to come out from under there. Fish right along the edges of the ice from 1 to 10 feet deep with streamers like buggers or leeches and you'll often get fish to come out and attack your fly. Use a tube or pontoon kick boat to position yourself for casting along these edges.
Use smaller streamers, leeches, or nymphs this time of year - size 14 to 10 or so. The natural insects aren't very big yet so fish sometimes don't seem to want to chase size 8s or 6s that might work great in the summer.
Locate fish by covering water with a leech pattern or wooly bugger but then switch to a static presentation of 2 or 3 (where legal) nymphs fished under a strike indicator. Many fish in cold water may still be too lethargic to really chase buggers but if you dangle a tasty little morsel right in front of them they often can't resist sipping it in. Chironomids, bi-color brassies, and other nymphs like pheasant tails are the best patterns to start with in this rig. Be willing to change depths often until you really get into fish. Most of the fish will kind of stick together at the same depth. Remember too that the optimal depth will change with time of day and changes in light conditions.
A quick word of caution if your fishing on partially iced over waters - Be very very careful not to get stuck between two ice sheets as they come together. Those things weigh an enormous amount and could crush your legs or leave you stranded on top of unsafe ice. I've seen ice sheets come together on a large reservoir and send shards of ice flying into the air. I've also seen them dig up good amounts of earth when they hit the shoreline. Picture plate techtonics on a smaller scale - not something to get in the middle of.
Find out which of your local lakes hold big trout and get out there as soon as you can when the ice starts to melt. You'll likely be rewarded with some bruiser fish and good times.