Whenever you're fishing, whether it be open water or ice fishing, there are some situations when the fish want a bait presented a certain way.
Watching your sonar can reveal what you should do with your bait. Modern-day sonar units will help you catch more fish. They show the tiniest lures, and they also let you know when a fish is in the area or looking at your bait.
If, as you're dropping your bait to the bottom, a fish moves in quickly and hits, you're in the right place. You're probably over hungry, aggressive fish. Enjoy the fishing.
However, there are times when fish will just come in and look at your bait. This is when you've got to slow your presentation if you want to get bit. Here's what I mean.
We were in South Dakota fishing perch. The lake we were on had been getting quite a bit of fishing pressure, and weather conditions weren't the best for a bite.
We could see plenty of fish come in and look at our baits, but they wouldn't bite. Maybe you've heard someone say you "had to hold your mouth just right to get bit." They were joking. However, in this situation, you had to hold your elbow just right.
These perch were finicky. We were using tiny Bro Bugs and tipping them with waxworms. The perch would look at them but not eat. We were moving from hole to hole, fishing in a standing position.
Finally I'd had enough walking. My Frabill portable shelter has super comfortable seats, and I decided to take advantage of those seats. I sat down on a hole that was showing fish life. I tried different colors, sizes, and jigging motions. Nothing.
Next I put a Gulp! maggot on my Bro Bug. I put it down there and held it right on the fish's nose jigging it ever so softly. Still nothing.
Then, mostly out of frustration, I rested the elbow of my jigging hand on my knee and held the rod perfectly still. The perch looked at my bait for at least 15 seconds, then softly struck.
This happened several more times in short order. These perch wanted the bait perfectly still. Even the motion of live bait prevented them from hitting. The Gulp! had a scent that appealed to them, and it didn't move unless I moved it.
By resting my elbow on my knee in a sitting position, the tremor from my hand was lessened. This is perhaps an extreme example, but it does reveal that at times the fish want a bait a certain way, and sometimes slow is best.
Electronics are a huge help in determining a fish's attitude. I experimented with the new Humminbird ICE units last year. They performed really well in a variety of situations, and helped me catch fish that I wouldn't have got without the benefit of sonar.
Keep in mind that sometimes a slow presentation will lead to big catches through the ice.
For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com.