A nice limit of “eye’s”
As you look out the window, you see blowing snow and icicles hanging from the gutters. As you sit in your home sipping on coffee, you can’t help but dream of Spring and open water. The thought of setting the hook on a Lake Erie walleye enters your mind and you simply can’t wait to hit the water! Fortunately for you, you can at least scratch some of that itch by taking to the ice and trying your luck at some winter walleyes! Not only can this cure the walleye fishing blues, but this could be your best chance at a wall hanger monster walleye! Some of the biggest walleye are caught through the ice, so your chances of a biggin is good!
Luckily for you readers, I have a very good friend who I consider an expert ice fisherman. Jake Dress is a fellow Marblehead resident, born and raised along the shore’s of Lake Erie and has been ice fishing for 16 years. The last two years he has spent countless hours on Lake Erie do to the great ice conditions and has caught more walleye than anyone I know. After seeing last weeks “hog” walleye pictures I decided I better do an interview to get the inside scoop! I have persuaded Jake to give us some of his ice fishing tips so take notes, he knows the game!
Jake with a HOG Lake Erie Walleye
ME: “So Jake, lets start off with the biggest question most people have on ice fishing Lake Erie. What is your stance on ice fishing safety and precautions?”
JAKE: “The biggest thing is to make sure you are prepared when venturing on any ice, especially Lake Erie. Wearing the proper clothing and ice cleats is a good start. A good compass and GPS is also a great idea. You need to be aware of the ice conditions and if you haven’t checked for yourself, you should! Never take it for granted as even if the ice is thick enough to support you, it can shift and leave you stranded if the wind switches! Wind direction plays a huge roll in ice moving, so watching the weather and wind direction before heading out is a MUST. Last but not least, I suggest you don’t go alone…if you do make sure you tell someone where you are headed and where you are leaving from. Safety on the ice is super important.”
ME: “Speaking of safety, do you use any kind of suit while ice fishing? Any special clothing you suggest?”
JAKE: “Three words: MUSTANG SURVIVAL SUIT! It has 100% flotation.” www.mustangsurvival.com/
ME: “Once you have that covered, what is the best form of transportation to get you out to the spot?”
JAKE: “The thickness of the ice plays the biggest role in this decision. If you walk, you can take your time and check the thickness of the ice as you go. If you are going out on an established path, the best thing to do is talk to a local who has been out recently do get an idea of the conditions of the trail. If you are certain the ice can handle the weight you can either use an ATV or a snowmobile. Snowmobile is best when the ice is snow covered, but without snow an ATV is best. Remember that 4″ can handle most adults, but you need 5″+ to handle a machine and gear!”
Jake with a rare Lake Erie ice Muskie!
ME: “I have had an experience where I went through on a stress crack on a snowmobile! Not a memory I will soon forget!” “Once you get to your spot, what kind of auger do use?”
JAKE: “As far as an auger, I use an 8″ hand auger but they offer different kinds. You have two stroke gas augers and propane powered augers from 4″-10”. It of course depends on the size fish you are planning on catching. For Walleye an 8″-10″ hole is best, but remember that the bigger the hole, the easier it will be to get the fish through it! There are regulations on hole size, so be sure to check local laws, Lake Erie is 12″
Me: “Speaking of holes, how do you know where to look for the fish and start making holes?”
JAKE: “Word of mouth certainly helps but not always. Most fisherman aren’t too tight lipped and will let you know where they are catching them. However, you can’t always go by that and may need to use your own gut and look for structure to fish over. A flasher and GPS help with this.”
ME: “Are you the kind of guy that roughs it on a 5 gallon bucket, or do you have some fancy ice shanty like my Dad used to have? We used to eat hot dogs off the grill in ours when I was a youngster!”
JAKE: “I use a one man portable shanty made by Clam Corp. They make different styles..tent or collapsible, and of course you can build your own!” http://clamoutdoors.com/
ME: “Ok now you are out there at your spot, and you have your hole made. Your shanty is set up and its time to catch some fish! What kind of equipment do you use for Walleye through the ice?”
JAKE: “I use a Berkley 30″ heavy action ice rod for walleye. I like power pro line myself, but if you plan on fishing out in the elements, it is best to use mono-filament which doesn’t freeze up on the spool as easily. I like 6lb-8lb test for walleye but with power pro I can use a higher test with smaller diameter line…that’s why I like it. Since I fish in a heated shanty, freeze up isn’t an issue. My favorite lure for ice fishing walleye is a #6 chrome Swedish pimple tipped with an emerald shiner.”
ME: “Is there any special technique you use to out fish everyone? Or is it just god given talent???”
JAKE: “Vertical jigging is best for walleye with up and down motions about 6″ off the bottom. A flasher can help you locate the fish and will usually show you your lure. This allows you to be on target with your presentation and is a huge advantage when ice fishing for anything! I use a marcum vx-1 flasher and strongly suggest that model, works great!” http://marcumtech.com/
ME: “Any frosty beverage preference? Food choices out on the ice?”
JAKE: “No frosty beverages on the ice, alcohol out there isn’t a good idea…besides I have a captains license and couldn’t if I wanted to. As for snacks you are going to want stuff that doesnt freeze like jerky, chips, crackers, etc.
ME: “In my dads past life, they used to partake in a few frosty beverages and it was part of the game. Thought I’d ask! Now that you have the fish on hand…how do you prepare them? i know them walleye out of cold water sure do taste amazing!”
JAKE: “I mostly blacken it, but I will sometimes fry it. You can’t go wrong with fresh walleye out of cold water!” (check out our blackened recipe in a previous blog) https://clemonsboats.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/best-walleye-recipe-ever/
ME: “Blackened is the bomb.com! Who could have possibly taught you that recipe? Had to be me! Thanks for taking the time out of your day to answer some questions for us, thanks!”
JAKE: “No problem!”
Jake with a real “lunker”
I want to thank Jake again for taking the time to talk to me about this. Jake knows what he is talking about and you can rest assured that if you do as he does, you will have success! Please make sure you take the ice seriously and do your research to be as safe as possible! No walleye is worth taking a chance for, so be sure of what you are doing before you head out there. After you head out and catch a few, let us know so we can post about your success!
See you on the water,
Clemons Boats – Life is better on a boat!