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Towns arrive

February 14, 2009
by Steve Weisman - Outdoor Editor

It's been a long time since I've seen little towns appear on Big Spirit Lake. Perhaps you have been part of one, a town of portable fish shelters with anglers after the schools of perch roaming Big Spirit's basin. These towns are always changing just a little each day as the schools come and go.

It's taking a lot of sorting, because many of the perch being caught are 7-8 inchers. However, every once in a while, a 9-10 incher will hit, and, of course, there are those isolated instances where the jumbos hit.

One of the hotter baits has been the Jigger Minnow, a lure manufactured by Charlie Shuck, who lives here in the Iowa Great Lakes. I really think it is the tiny chain that attaches the hook to the body of the lure. The slightest little jiggle moves the hook and entices the perch to bite.

What I really look forward to is what these seven to eight-inch perch will be like next fall.

So, where did the snow go? Last weekend it was still tricky getting around, but the melting was helping the situation. Then by Tuesday-poof! It's gone. Amazing how fast things can change. Now the worry is what will the shorelines be like will we be able to get out on the ice? More than likely things will change, temperatures will fall and the water on the ice along the shoreline should disappear. Most importantly, be careful!

One of the toughest bites this winter has been the bluegill bite on West Okoboji. I've witnessed it several times, and as I have visited with other anglers, they have said the same thing.

For the most part, you'll see quite a few fish, but they are so, so finicky. They'll come up to the bait, stare and stare and then slowly swim away.

Every once in a while, somebody will get the just the right bait and the right technique and catch a nice mess of gills, but the person only a few feet away might catch a few or none at all.

It really seems to come down to a very precise and consistent presentation for the "long haul!" You see, just because you don't see any fish below you that doesn't mean they aren't close by.

I don't know how many times I have been working a bait, jiggling and jiggling and jiggling, trying to make everything as consistent as possible. After a while, I just can't seem to keep it going, so I stop for a second or maybe look out the window of my shack to see what's going on or I just need to stretch my neck a little bang there it is a big gill has appeared.

However, it's over before it begins, because I am not presenting the bait the way I was when the gill came in range. Nope. Most of the time, the gill just sits there and then takes off not in any hurry, just no longer interested anymore in my bait.

I've also had the situation where I get the gill to come in to take a look, and it gets within an inch or right on target to take the bait. I've found you don't want to stop the bait so the gill can bite. Nope! Most of the time the gill puts on the brakes, and then moves away. Once again the gill has won!

You know what? I think this is one reason I keep coming back. I'm obsessed with getting those finicky fish to bite. Plus, there's nothing more awesome than to finally get one of those 10-inch gills to bite. On the days that this happens, all is right with the world!



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