Fishing Reports
By: Matt Johnson

Modern day society  continues to  push
the mentality  of doing things  “big” and
bold. “Go big or go home”  is no longer
just a term used on the sports field, but
also rather in the office,  at the  factory,
or even in the classroom. We are wired
to take things  to the  max and  “push it
to the limit.” But what about fishing? Or
better yet,  what  about  those first  few
weeks after  ice-out  when  the  panfish
are still in “ice mode” trying to find their appetite? “Go big or go home” might
send you off with the latter, but “go small or go home” could be the ticket to an
amazing day on the water.

So what does “go small or go home” mean exactly? For me, it means keeping
you ice fishing tackle with you when you first hit the open water scene. When
you sit back and think about it, you just finished up your ice fishing season
(maybe literally only days ago?) and the last thing you threw at those fish where
size 10 ice jigs tipped with finesse plastics. You weren’t using a big twister tail or
minnow bait, you were slicing and dicing big panfish with smaller offerings. That
trend will continue as you hit the first few weeks of open water, especially when
the water temps hover in the 40s. Keep those ice jigs and plastics with you.

Now, I’m not saying you need to break out the 1/200oz,
size 16 hook ice jigs,  but those size  10 and 8 jigs  are
more  applicable  for  the  situation.  I  prefer  tungsten
myself;  since it allows you  to keep better  contact with
the  jig  (if vertically jigging)  and better  pull  under the
float  (if  you  decide  to  pitch  a  float  setup).  Then  I
usually tipped these jigs with  a finesse plastic of some
Clam Pro Tackle offers a nice arrange of jigs and
plastics to get the  job done.  The Drop series  jigs are
dynamite for  early season  panfish,  and when  you tip
those  with  a  Maki  or  
Mister  Twister plastic  of  your  
choice  you  have yourself a deadly  one-two punch for
coldwater spring panfish.

Why do fish  prefer  these  smaller  presentations  you
might ask? Well, for one, they are still eating a “lighter”
diet. Water temps are cold and their  metabolisms  are
slowly warming up from the deep freeze.  During much
of the winter, panfish are  consuming smaller  morsels
and prey, and their bodies still feel as if the surrounding conditions are “cold.”
As the water temps begin to rise—along with spring oxygen and libido—these
fish will begin putting on the feedbags and devouring anything in their path, but
we’re not quite there yet. Continue to feed them their “comfort food” and you’ll
find more fish on the end of your line.

This idea of fishing small is not complex, and every angler is capable of
mastering this technique, you just need to keep the ice tackle out a little longer.
Bring along your jig box packed with tungsten jigs and your Ziploc bags of
finesse plastics when you first hit the open water scene this year, you won’t
regret it!

Good Fishin’
Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson Outdoors 2003-2015
Experience the Fishing
Go Small or Go Home