I am still waiting for safe ice. Got a little teaser for the rest of you that are doing the same:
I know the underwater camera technology is advancing just like all electronics technology. I have played with an underwater camera just a little bit on Nebraska waters and in most cases, even under the ice, I consider our waters to be stained enough that the underwater cameras are of limited use. But, I am sure there are some situations where a person could have a lot of fun watching the TV screen and in some fishing situations it would be a great tool.
Besides getting you all fired up to hit the ice, watch that video and notice how some of the fish strikes are decisive. In some cases, the fish, big and small, panfish and larger predator fish, swim right up, even charge right in, and inhale the bait. On other occasions the fish definitely show interest in the baits, but do not really commit to eating them. Sometimes they just make “halfhearted” attempts at sucking in the bait. When that happens the fish just may not be that active, that interested in feeding. Sometimes there just does not seem to be anything you can do to make them bite. On the other hand, those fish are attracted to your bait, but there may be one little thing that is keeping them from committing. There may be something unnatural about the presentation, the bait may be just a little bit too big, or its “behavior”, action is not just right. If that is the response you are getting from fish, then it is time to start experimenting with little things, like color, like jigging motions, etc. to try to get the fish to commit.
Another thing to notice on that video, especially for those fish that are not real aggressive, is that they may still attempt to inhale the bait, but the baits weight or position of the hook prevents the bait from getting in a position where a successful hook set can be made. Notice also, especially with panfish, especially bluegills, that at times they seem to target the head of a ice-fishing jig instead of the business end. In that case some scent on the bait like a wax worm may draw their attention to the hook, or a small, flexible plastic body that appears alive might draw their attention to the tail, hook end, of a jig instead of the head. I believe that panfish like bluegills are “near-sighted” and at times examine baits presented under the ice very carefully before committing to eat them. Look closely, separately, at parts of your baits, heads, bodies, tails, what they are tipped with; you may see them as a total package, but the fish likely see them as components, parts, and getting certain parts right can make all the difference in the world.
Notice also with jigging spoons and similar baits that the fish may not see them as a total package either. The actual spoon body may be a great fish attractor, but when the fish gets close and decides to eat it or not, they may be focused entirely on the hook or what is tipping the hook. And, if they are less than aggressive about eating it, a hook that freely swings into their mouth on one of those tentative strikes will result in more hook-ups!
Just some things to think about while we wait. Little details can make a huge difference!