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Sunny Day Rainbows

 

Dragging the sled across the ice I approach my favourite late season trout hole.  As I round the last corner of shoreline cattails, I am excited to see there is no one around.  And my holes from the day before are not frozen over.  This is the spring bonus: ice fishing holes that no longer freeze.  I pick right up where I left off and start setting up lines in these very same holes I used yesterday.  It doesn’t take long and a rod springs to life and I run over.  At the hookset I swear there was no weight, but there is life, and I bring in a nice looking, but rather small trout.  It is a fish though, and this makes me happy.  Looking at the little guy I gently ease the hook out and release him.  I am happy with the moment.

Little, but welcomed.

Little, but welcomed.

I rebait and send the hook half way down.  I am in 10 feet of water and I am fishing about five feet down.  It doesn’t take long.  I hear the distinctive snap of my rod zipping skyward after being tripped in the JawJacker.  At the hookset the rod stays down and it looks like this is a bigger fish.  I grab the rod and engage the fish and there is weight and power.  The fish pulls hard, and stubbornly the reel yields line.  I hold steady.  The trout gets a head of steam and easily takes 30 or 40 feet more.  When I feel the resistance starting to give, it’s my turn.

JawJackers catch fish.

JawJackers catch fish.

I pull steady on the rod and the fish starts to come, a little at first, and then quicker.  I keep up the pressure, and the trout decides this is enough and comes straight at me, blowing through the hole and out the other side.  My rod folds over and the sound of my reel sings again.  Without a doubt I am hooked into a good fish.  Twice more I get the fish close and twice more he pulls away.  This is a game of patience and I have all day.  It takes a good five minutes, perhaps more, and I get the sense that the fight is swinging in my favour.  The runs aren’t as athletic, or heavy.  It’s easier to guide the fish.  I have the fish right below the ice hole where it rolls and twists in a last ditch effort to escape.  I ease off on pulling, and hold light tension until the rainbow is through with his antics.  Trying to force things at the hole is where a lot of fish are lost.  The trout settles and I guide him up.  We get a hand on the fish and out pops a handsome rainbow, easily pushing 20 inches and 4 pounds.  It’s an outstanding catch.

A beautiful last ice rainbow.

A beautiful last ice rainbow.

I am super happy with this fish, and we celebrate with cheers and high fives.  The day is young, the air is warm and the fish are biting.  It’s a great deal.  Spring fish are opportunistic fish, and they have a propensity to bite longer into the day, and sometimes straight through from morning to night.  They are not fussy about baits and I have knocked it out of the park using the standbys; maggots, trout worms, shrimp, and frozen minnows.   On some lakes, especially if the water is clear, I like to jig a small bead head fly.  It could be a bead head prince nymph, a pheasant tail, a scud, or a zug bug, but these small flies jigged in the spring will make many a trout become unglued.  I tie the knot to the fly and twist the knot towards the point of the hook so the fly suspends horizontally.  This looks more natural and gets more bites.

 

Quality rainbows are a regular occurrence.

Quality rainbows are a regular occurrence.

Some days, when I have lots of time and I feel nostalgic, I tie on a wooly worm and jig it much the same way I do the bead head nymphs.  Why, because it was this fly that showed me how incredibly effective ice fishing flies for trout is, and since that fateful day I’ve never looked back. It takes forever for the zero weight wooly worm to sink, but when I get it down to where the trout can see it, it gets eaten, often, and with authority.  Another fly that is super effective is the bead head spratley, but watch out on the hooksets.  Trout streak in on the spratley thinking it’s a minnow and the smash it into tomorrow.  It’s a heavy, aggressive hit, which has caused me to break a few off at the hookset. Those other flies I spoke of though, the trout take them much more civilly.

Spring trout are opportunistic.

Spring trout are opportunistic.

If there is one spring presentation that never caught on, even with me, it’s jigging a floating plug through the ice for trout.  It works, and it works really well, as my buddy Aaron can attest, but there are drawbacks.  The fact is, trout will smash the plug, they will, but then I am dealing with 6 hook points instead of one, of which, maybe only one or two of those hook points are in the fish.  The others are exposed and have a nasty habit of catching the underside of the ice as I am trying to bring the fish up, and there it is, a lost fish.  But if you are into experimenting, this really works.  "How might you get a floating plug to the bottom you might ask," and that is a good question.  The answer is pinching on the smallest split shot that you can get away with while sinking the plug.  Pinch it on just above the line knot right at the nose of the plug, so the shot and the plug are pretty much one thing.  The reason for choosing a floating plug is that it is livelier, and wiggles more when jigged compared to the sinking versions and this seems to trigger more bites.

Holes don’t freeze.

Holes don’t freeze.

The wonderful thing is that all of these presentations work and work well on last-ice, sunny day rainbows.  They are hungry, active, and opportunistic, which makes for some of the best fishing of the year.  When the warm days of March roll around and the ice holes no longer freeze, I bet you can guess where I am going to be.

 



Previous Fishing Articles
(1) Pond Power
(2) Caddisflies
(3) In the Good Old Summertime
(4) A Southern Escape
(5) Springtime in Alberta - Can Thrill You to the Bone
(6) Sunny Day Rainbows
(7) New "Fishing" Year Resolutions
(8) Five Fine Places to Find Trout
(9) Catfishing Revisited
(10) Discover Squamish, an Outdoor Playground
(11) Falling for Cutthroat
(12) New Water and Old Friends
(13) My McLeod
(14) Temperature and Trout
(15) On the Road Again
(16) Tips That Will Make You a More Successful Fly-Fisherman
(17) 5 Ways to Catch Your Trout
(18) The Difference Maker - Reading Trout Stream Waters
(19) Rollin’ on the River
(20) Windy Day Pike
(21) Cures for Cabin Fever
(22) Snowbirding with a Fishing Rod
(23) Alberta’s Spring Creek Browns - Blessings and Curses
(24) A day on our foothill streams
(25) Fly Fishing Crowded Waters
(26) Fly Leaders
(27) In the Zone
(28) Learners Permit
(29) Flies of Summer
(30) Selecting the Right Boat
(31) The Italian Job
(32) Making a difference
(33) Pass the Salt
(34) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(35) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(36) Fall brings the big walleye out
(37) Hoppertunity Time
(38) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(39) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(40) Early Season Fly Fishing
(41) Walleye Logic
(42) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(43) Grammy’s Fish
(44) Top 10 Trout Lures
(45) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(46) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(47) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(48) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(49) There’s No Place Like Home
(50) A Golden Opportunity
(51) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(52) Un-matching the Hatch
(53) Alberta Super Bugs
(54) Glass is Back
(55) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(56) Speed Kills
(57) Entering the Twilight Zone
(58) Old Man River
(59) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(60) Small stream BT fishing
(61) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(62) In The Walleye Zone
(63) Zoo Trout
(64) Fly Selection for Beginners
(65) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(66) New Waters
(67) Big Bad Burbot
(68) Looking Back
(69) Out of Africa
(70) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(71) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(72) The Browns of Autumn
(73) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(74) Walleye Town
(75) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(76) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(77) Going With The Flow
(78) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(79) Swinging The Fences
(80) A View From The Aerie
(81) Dixieland Delight
(82) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(83) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
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(85) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
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(87) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(88) Top Ten Flies
(89) Northern Exposure
(90) Home Water Lessons
(91) Chicken Of The Sea
(92) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(93) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(94) Keep It Up!
(95) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(96) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the 2013 flood
(97) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(98) Hawg Holes
(99) Saltwater Salmon
(100) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(101) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(102) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(103) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS
(104) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES
(105) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(106) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(107) Fall Walleye
(108) Wet Flies
(109) Versatility the Key to Success
(110) Grayling of the Boreal
(111) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(112) Size Matters
(113) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(114) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(115) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(116) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(117) The Point Of It All
(118) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(119) Fall Fly Fishing
(120) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(121) Big River, Big Fish
(122) Bottom Bonanza
(123) Fishing Small Flies
(124) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(125) Four Seasons of the Bow
(126) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(127) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT
(128) Trout Hunting New Zealand style
(129) Don’t Leave Home Without Them – 10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(130) Edge Walleye
(131) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER
(132) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(133) Four Corners – Four Waters
(134) Chasing Pothole Trout
(135) Springtime Stoneflies
(136) The Torrents of Spring
(137) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(138) Bust Them With Bait
(139) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(140) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(141) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(142) Terrestrials
(143) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(144) Rocky Mountain High
(145) Reading the clues
(146) Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.
(147) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(148) Fly Fishing 101
(149) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(150) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(151) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(152) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(153) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(154) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(155) Trust Your Electronics
(156) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(157) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(158) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(159) Walleye can be Humbling
(160) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(161) Winter Flyfishing
(162) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(163) Hot Fall Pike Action
(164) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(165) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(166) Frequently Asked Questions
(167) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(168) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(169) Deep Water Perch
(170) Post Spawn Brookies
(171) A Fisher's Life
(172) The River's Last Stand
(173) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(174) Coho on the Coast
(175) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(176) Summer in the Mountains
(177) Peak Walleye Season
(178) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(179) Last Ice Rainbows
(180) The Burbot Event
(181) Tackle Matching
(182) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(183) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(184) The Lure of Brook Trout
(185) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(186) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(187) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(188) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(189) The Vesatile Plug
(190) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(191) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(192) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(193) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(194) Daily Fish Migrations
(195) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(196) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(197) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(198) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(199) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(200) The Fun in Ultra Light
(201) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(202) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(203) Never Stop Learning
(204) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(205) Jigging through the Ice
(206) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(207) Rainbows on Ice
(208) The Season of Ice Begins
(209) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(210) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(211) Facts On Cats
(212) West Coast Adventure
(213) June Walleye Frenzy
(214) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(215) First Fish of the Year Pothole Rainbows and Browns
(216) Northern Exposure
(217) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(218) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(219) Man Overboard
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