5 Proven Presentations For Catching Whitefish On Ice
Ice fishing for whitefish has grown in popularity in the last decade. Any experienced whitefish angler will tell you to bring plenty of lures on the ice because this cold-water species can be particular about what they’ll strike. Here are five fail-safe presentations for whitefish.
Reliable Jigging Raps and Jigging Shad Raps
Arguably the best ice fishing lure ever, the Jigging Rap, along with the potent Jigging Shad Rap, are perfect for whitefish. These lures sink fast, an asset when whitefish are deep. They also have a realistic minnow profile and action.
When raised and lowered, a Jigging Rap or Jigging Shad Rap swims in a lifelike, tantalizing circle. Pause jigging and the lure returns to its starting position, rocking slightly as it comes to rest, completing the potent strike-triggering sequence.
On lakes with silvery baitfish, Pearl White, Glow, Purpledescent, Regal Shad and Chrome Blue are good choices. On Lake Simcoe and other goby-infested waters be sure to have some Live Goby Jigging Raps.
Tip: Add a minnow head to the treble hook to get more bites in tough conditions.
A Hunchbacked Hero
Whitefish can’t resist the Blue Fox Lil’ Foxee Jigging Minnow. Nose heavy, this lure’s weight distribution gives it a fast sink rate and a distinct action.
While jigging and swimming it catches suspending whitefish, the Lil’ Foxee is designed for bottom contact. Pounding bottom creates a silt cloud and makes noise. Small nods of the rod cause the Lil’ Foxee’s head to bob up and down while its feather-dressed tail pulsates tauntingly. This mimics an unthreatened minnow feeding - a sight a whitefish will eagerly pounce on.
Tip: Available in naturalistic colours and weights from 3/16- to 1-1/8-ounces, there’s a Lil’ Foxee Jigging Minnow for every winter whitefish scenario.
Seductive Soft Baits
Soft plastics are candy for hungry whitefish. The 3” Storm WildEye Swim Shad, 2.5” WildEye Live Goby and 2.5” 360GT Searchbait are good choices. Attract fish using 6” to 24” lifts. Then experiment with short hops, shakes and swim-away moves to seal the deal.
Neutral and inactive whitefish can be tempted by finesse plastics. The 1/16-ounce VMC Flap Tail, Nymph, Boot Tail, and Curl Tail jigs with scented Trigger X bodies are examples. The slow, unhurried action of a light jig is very persuasive, even to lock-jawed whitefish.
Tip: Use a jigging minnow or spoon to attract fussy whitefish, then switch to a small soft-plastic to tease it to bite.
Fluttering, Tumbling Spoons
Jigging spoons are dependable ice baits. As whitefish swim shallow to deep in winter, carry spoons from 1/16-ounce “panfish” models to 1/2-ounce versions. Here are some recommendations.
The Blue Fox More-Silda has an injured-baitfish, fluttering action and falls fast. These characteristics are great for attracting whitefish and stimulating strikes.
Erratic, shimmering slab style spoons, like the VMC Flash Champ and Luhr-Jensen Cast Champ, are must-haves. Their beveled edges and tampered design produce an enticing, side-to-side action that drives whitefish wild.
The VMC Rattle Spoon and Luhr-Jensen Crippled Herring have a reserved action and fall fast. These straight spoons are excellent for pounding, shaking and playing keep-away to evoke hits from whitefish.
Tip: Attract whitefish with a spoon using a two to three foot lift, then letting it fall. Repeat several times, then pause. Once fish arrive, experiment with shorter jigging strokes, shakes and pauses.
Presenting two baits on one line is another whitefish strategy. Jig, shake and pause these rigs like any other ice fishing presentation.
One easy rig is a drop-shot. Tie a VMC SpinShot hook on 6-pound Sufix fluorocarbon. Then tie on a Jigging Rap, spoon or Lil’ Foxee Jigging Minnow to a 12” to 24” dropper. Tip the drop-shot hook with a finesse plastic, real minnow or wax worm.
A slider rig is also popular. Thread a VMC Wax Tail Jig or another finesse jig on 6-pound Sufix mono or fluorocarbon. Then tie on a barrel swivel for a stopper. Finally, add a dropper attached to a heavier lure.
Tip: Dropper spoons, like the VMC Rocker Spoon, are also potent for whitefish.
Whitefish Jigging Combos
For light lures, use a medium-light, 28” Rapala IRC Rod and Reel Combo with 3- to 5-pound Sufix InvisiLine Ice Fluorocarbon or Ice Magic. For heavier baits, use a medium, 28” R-Type spinning combo with 5- to 6-pound fluorocarbon or monofilament.
Fishing with 8- or 10-pound Sufix 832 Advanced Ice Braid with a 6- to 8-pound fluorocarbon leader has benefits. Braid doesn’t stretch, delivering increased sensitivity in deep water. Its thin diameter increases a lure’s sink rate.
Tip: Stainless Steel Fishing Forceps are the best tool for removing hooks from soft-mouthed whitefish.
Consistently catching whitefish comes down to details. A lure’s vibration, sink rate, action, profile and colour must all be considered, which is why successful anglers pack an assortment of hard- and soft-baits