Lake Michigan Ice Fishing
To most ice fisherman the idea of ice fishing Lake Michigan is a foreign concept. This post is meant to shed some light on this awesome fishery. In reality you are ice fishing the harbors, not the main lake. Almost all of the SE Wisconsin harbors feature some fantastic at times ice fishing for Brown and Rainbow trout with the occasional large Pike.
So what is the best way to target these fish? To start realize that you are targeting a Trout so think like you're Walleye fishing. I use 6# test leaders on my Automatic Fisherman. Anything higher than 8# test and your odds of getting a Trout to bite fall virtually to zero. I believe the Automatic Fisherman excels for this type of fishing compared to a tip up, since trout will drop a bait very quickly after feeling a hook. Most of the time I like to use both medium Golden Shiners, and spawn sacs on my Automatics. I put out a 50/50 mix and let the fish tell me what they want. Use a #8 octopus hook for the spawn sacs, and set them within a foot of the bottom. With the Shiners use either a #4 octopus hook or a small #12-#14 treble hooked right behind the dorsal fin. The Shiners can be fished from the bottom to right below the ice. My best jigging lure is a standard 1/8oz - 1/4oz jig head tipped with a medium Shiner.
Things to remember:
1. Try fishing close to docks and rock walls the trout love to cruise the structure.
2. Use quality rods and reels, these fish will test your drag!
3. Not all spawn sacs are created equal. Fresh spawn or spawn cured in Pautzke's BorX O' Fire is the ticket, without either of those use all shiners. Brown trout spawn is far superior to salmon spawn, salmon will eat any type of eggs but Browns and Bows show a strong preference to their own eggs. The best is to tie your own, (more on this in the next post.)