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Frisch: December’s Good Ice Fishing

Mike Frisch breaks down some fish you might find on your next ice fishing adventure.

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Mike Frisch holding up some fish.
Contributed photo
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December is the best month of the year for ice fishing, at least from this angler’s perspective. 

Most lakes have safe, fishable ice now and the bite is often good too.  In fact, the vast majority of the best winter fishing trips I have been on have occurred this month.  Here is a look at some of those bites.

Shallow prairie lake walleyes
Small, shallow “prairie” lakes often harbor good walleye populations and December is usually peak winter bite when chasing those fish.  A jigging spoon like a Pinhead Jigging Mino tipped with a minnow head is a traditional producer.  This year, however, I will add the new Pinhead Pro to my arsenal, probably in bright colors as these lakes often have a bit of color in the water.  Targeting the same spots I caught fish from last spring and fall will probably yield good results now too.

The last half hour of daylight is prime time on these waters and I like to get there early and be set up so that I can minimize my movements and noise during the peak time.  Too much commotion on the ice can spook these shallow walleyes.

Alexandria (MN) panfish
The Alexandria area of Minnesota is a bass fishing hotspot, has several good walleye lakes, and every lake in the area has a fishable population of bluegills and crappies.  During early ice these fish will roam weeds, particularly cabbage weeds and any green, living vegetation can be the proverbial “spot on the spot” for both bluegills and crappies.

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Small tungsten jigs tipped with plastics are great for targeting these fish.  A winter sonar unit with good target separation like a FLX-20 allows an angler to distinguish fish from the weeds while also allowing him or her to clearly see the jig as well.  This bite will also probably require a bit of legwork and auger work to find fish, but the search shouldn’t last long and the fish are usually aggressive once found.

Big Stone (SD/MN) perchBig Stone Lake has good walleyes, bass, and more, but the abundant yellow perch population is what really draws winter anglers.  These fish roam the lake’s expansive basin so drilling lots of holes and finding fish is really key.  The K-Drill battery-powered auger I use is reliable, drills holes quickly, and is very light which is a big key when walking, drilling, and searching.

Small jigging spoons produce Big Stone perch, but clear water and more fishing pressure have made small tungsten jigs tipped with plastics or spikes top producers.  A 1/32-ounce gold Drop Jig tipped with a spike has put lots of perch in the pail for partners and I on several Big Stone trips the past couple years.

If you like ice fishing, December is the prime time to be on hard water.  And, the bites just described are some of the best this ice angler has experienced.  In fact, getting out now and sampling the waters and tips just offered may just lead to December fishing fun for you too!

As always, remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!

Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest television series on the Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network, Bally Sports North, and several other networks as well.  Visit fishingthemidwest.com  to learn more.

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