Largemouth bass receive a lot of pressure from anglers for much of the year. However, they often get ignored throughout winter where ice blankets the lakes. But this does not need to be the case! With the right tackle and patience, ice fishing for bass is possible. Not only is catching bass through the ice possible, but it can produce a lunker for the wall.
Ice Fishing for Bass
We turned to a pro when it comes to ice fishing for bass. Today we’re excited for him to share his secrets. Gage Fannin of North Webster, Indiana spends much of the winter hunting bass as well as musky. He has a proven technique. It begins with location.
Ice Fishing for Bass: Where
Where to catch bass when ice fishing will be in the same areas as explained in the blog “Winter Bass Fishing: A Winter with Bite.” Just as they do throughout the warm months, bass follow the food source. On most lakes, that is where the bluegill and perch gather. This is also where most ice anglers congregate. Find the panfish, or ice anglers, and you have found the bass. Once Fannin locates this area, he looks for weeds. Then he sets up camp.
Setting up for Ice Fishing for Bass
“I use an 8-inch auger because of the large fish I’m targeting,” he shares. “I put a shanty over the hole, because it blocks out the sun. This allows me to see my camera screen.”
He drops the lens of an underwater camera down the hole where he can watch his bait plus the coming and going of fish even in dingy colored water. When a fish come to investigate his offering, he works his bait accordingly to the aggressiveness of the fish.
“Each fish is different. Sometimes they want an aggressive snap, and sometimes they want it nearly deadsticked.” He adds, “I use weeds as camouflage by dropping the camera lens into the weeds. This conceals it from the fish.”
Ice Fishing for Muskie and Bass
Ice Fishing for Bass: Tackle
Fannin uses a 45-inch rod by Haat Custom Rods with a Medium Heavy action (How to Choose the Right Fishing Rod). “The rod tip is sensitive enough to work my jig, but also strong enough to withstand the long runs of a musky and surge of a bass,” he explains.
The rod is complimented with an Abu Garcia Black Max reel with a 6.4:1 gear ratio. It possesses a smooth drag system and holds plenty of the 17-pound fluorocarbon line used.
Lures for Ice Fishing for Bass
He has an arsenal of Rapala Jigging Raps to fool bass. “Lighting makes a big difference when selecting lures,” he explains. “Obviously, weather has a big impact of the lighting penetration under the ice, but that’s only the start.”
Snow cover also makes a difference, but not just the mere presence of it. A couple of inches decreases light penetration more than a dusting. Snow ice, which is ice formed by partially melted snow frozen into ice, alters light penetration differently. Black ice allows the most light. Sometimes, combinations can come together. Snow could be covering two inches of snow ice with four inches of black ice under it.
He adds, “Don’t forget about the shanty. That will impact the light as well, and it sticks out as abnormal from the surrounding ice. The best place to set up is on either snow or snow ice, because this helps camouflage me.”
The light penetration impacts how he selects which jigging rap to use. He will use brighter colors that’ll stick out when the light penetration is strong. He will use a more natural looking bait when it is weak. That is when it’s important to match his bait to what the fish are eating. That’s is typically whatever I see swimming below me – perch, bluegill, etc…” He concludes, “When all else fails, black and silver is my go-to color.”
This is the opportunity to take bass fishing to the next level! With your Megaware-protected boat in storage, grab your warmest gear, and try chasing down a bass or two through the ice.