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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Winter ice fishing, pike, bass, perch - January 2020

I've decided to change up my monthly fishing reports a bit. The new format will include a bit more information relevant to the fishing outings detailed on my blog. For January 2020, as most of my fishing was for bass, pike and incidental perch, I will sort the post by species, then by date.

Ice fishing for largemouth bass:

Date: January 1st 2020
Weather: 0 degrees Celsius, mix of sun and snow, 20 km/h West wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Having ended the previous decade on a largemouth bass a couple days before, I didn't take long to kick off the new year and a new decade with some more, good ice fishing for bass. Though there was a risk of landing a perch or sunfish, the chances at bass at this given spot are much better, especially when using a lure too big for most of the forage fish in the area.

A few minutes into the outing, this nice largemouth bass nailed my jigging rap, what a way to kick off the new year!

Turned out to be the first of 4 bass for the outing, the bass were a bit finicky and tough to convince to hit the lure I was jigging. I couple missed chases too.

Date: January 23rd 2020
Weather: -1 degrees Celsius, sunny, 12 km/h West wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Got back to my bass spot after a couple weeks of chasing pike and perch. In contrast to my previous outing there 3 weeks earlier, the bass were on fire from the get go. First 3 drops in the first hole, produced 3 nice bass, and first 2 drops in the second hole produced 2 more bass. the bass were super aggressive. inhaling my jigging rap.

Still no lunkers all winter from that spot, but 5 bass in half hour is a great start to the day.

Unfortunately, that was the end of the bite, no more bass during the next 4 hours and about 20+ ice holes fished.

Date: January 29th 2020
Weather: -7 degrees Celsius, sunny, 10 km/h North wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Another days with early success for bass on ice, this lunker ended being my biggest bass of the month, caught a bit less than half hour after getting started.

Not much else for nearly 6 hours, as I was prospecting some areas I hadn't previously tried. Trekking back to the car at days end, I decided to drop a line in the hole that produced the morning's bass. Sure enough, I hooked another smaller one, but ended up losing it at the hole.

As usual, all bass were released.

Ice fishing for Northern Pike:

Date: January 10th 2020
Weather: -2 degrees Celsius, cloudy, 15 km/h South wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Decided to take Zev out for a short 5 hour outing, to fish tip ups for pike and jig for possible bass and panfish. Didn't take long for a hungry Northern pike to take the quick strike rigged frozen mackerel we had set up on my polar tip ups. I hooked the pike, and let Zev fight and land his first ever pike on ice, on his first ice fishing outing of the year.

Date: January 14th 2020
Weather: -3 degrees Celsius, sunny, 3 km/h West wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Having tried a new spot for perch and walleye a few days earlier, I noticed that many other people fishing there were all focusing on deeper water. This led me to believe that there may have been some untouched pike up shallow. I returned to the area with my polar tip ups and some frozen mackerel for bait. Only allowed 5 lines in that zone, I set my 4 tip ups in shallower 6-7 foot deep water, while I kept the 5th line to jig for perch a bit deeper.

Although the perch fishing was dismal, I turned out to be right about the pike. I took nearly 3 hours, but my flag went off, and I landed my first pike of the year from a new spot. Nice fat belly on it too. Gotta love when that happens!

Date: January 15th 2020
Weather: -3 degrees Celsius, sunny, 12 km/h wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Headed out with my son Ari and one of his Cegep teachers that had never been ice fishing. The first place we planed to fish was unsafe. Ended up going to another lake nearby, after finding a possible launch site on Google maps. As I had never been on that lake, we did not know what to expect. However, we were all excited about the adventure of fishing a new spot for the first time.

Ari had just upgraded with Jiffy ice auger with a 10 inch blade, and made quick work of punching a dozen holes up shallow for pike lines. As I was still setting lines, the first flag went off within minutes. Ari demonstrated to his teacher (Mark) how to hook, fight and land fish on hand lines.

We proceeded to jig for perch while waiting for another pike bite, and sure enough, we did quite well for perch on jigging raps and small kastmaster spoons.

Eventually, Mark was up for the next flag line. He made no mistake, and ended up landing his first pike on ice. Congrats!

Those bigger ice holes made landing pike on ice quite easy. See the difference between a 6 and 10 inch hole:

Date: January 22nd 2020
Weather: -2 degrees Celsius, sunny, 15 km/h West wind
Water temp: 1-2 degrees Celsius

Ari and I took advantage of his last day of school to chase pike for a few hours. After having drilled some big ice holes and setting our baited tip up lines, Ari and I jigged for perch and sunfish. On his first hole, he ended up hooking a pike but losing it.

Minutes later, I saw a nice mark on my Humminbird, pretty sure it was a pike, as the smaller school of sunfish I had been hammering disappeared, and this mark was considerably bigger. As I tried convincing the pike to hit my lure, the first flag went up. Another solid pike landed.

After re-baiting the tip up line, I got back to jigging again. Surprisingly the big mark was still there, but was super finicky. I finally took me 20 minutes or so to tease it into biting. These torpedoes are tons of fun on jigging rods with light line, though the risk of line cuts with pike is real. Luckily, I managed to land this pike shortly after.

Pike bite died down 1.5 hours into the outing, ended up with some perch, bluegills and pumpkinseed sunfish.

I must say, January 2020 has been of of my most productive Januaries over the past decade. Aside from having caught more bass than any previous January, We managed to land Northern pike from for different waterways in 3 different management zones in Quebec.

Hope to change up species a bit in February, stay tuned!

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