The Herald Bulletin

January 9, 2013

Rick Bramwell: Icy pond no longer giving the cold shoulder

— The jig is up and out of the ice for a while. Bob May and I made the most out of four days on a local pond. What worked and what didn’t was a big surprise.

This pond has always perplexed us. The bluegill are huge, but we never catch many. We have left the lake without getting a bite. It was a puzzle that needed to be solved.

Our first morning on the ice, we spent hours catching 10 fish. The next day Bob caught four gills, and I never had a bite. One of his bluegill measured 10 1/4 inches.

When you realize you are doing something wrong, do you make subtle or drastic changes?

We rig two ice jigs to a line about a foot apart and use Peak Sensitivity tungston spring bobbers by Frabill. Our bottom jig is set just off the bottom of the lake. If fish continually bite on the top hook, we fish higher. With most of the gills being 9 inches or larger, we chose to use No. 8 ice jigs tipped with wax worms. I went heavy with the flutter or flicker jigs I wrote about last week.

The first time Bob May fishes a spot he puts dry cat food in a panty hose, ties a stick across the top, then drops the food-filled toe down the hole. This is his way of chumming a spot. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.

The 10-plus incher Bob caught must have been swimming up to the chum. It was 4 feet off the bottom. Our next trip, we took 11 big gills. Most were 2 feet off the bottom. We also noticed that most of the bluegill were coming on small No. 10-size jigs. As we reeled in to leave, both of us got hits about 4 feet off the bottom.

Our last time to fish was Monday afternoon. Joining us was Kevin Matalucci, owner of 20 Taps in Broad Ripple.

The new game plan was to actively explore all depths and use some smaller jigs. We were on the ice and fishing at 3 p.m. The bite was very slow when I decided to get my portable hunting chair out of the truck. I stood at the top of the hill and studied the pond. It has an island in the shallow end. On the back side of the island is a trough that runs into deep water. I wondered if a school of big gills might be lying off the break.

I immediately drilled three new holes and moved to the spot. The bite was quick and repetitious. It was difficult to keep two lines in the water. The fish were on the bottom to 2-feet high. Bob and Kevan made haste to drill holes in my local. The lake that had punished us so many times was giving up the motherlode.  

At dark, we left the pond with more than 50 bluegill and feeling good about solving the puzzle.