ice fishing for bass: eight proven tactics to catch more of them

Contrary to popular lore, smallmouth and largemouth bass do bite under the ice. In fact, I’ve caught some of my biggest bass that way! But we have to adjust our tactics in response to the wintery conditions. The fish congregate on the bottom and are lethargic and slow. They only eat a small fraction of what they would normally eat in the summer. But here’s the thing: they do need to feed and can therefore be caught.  Below are some ways to catch more bass under the ice.

 

Bass fishing through hard water is a blast!

Bass fishing through hard water is a blast!


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Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River, Topsham, Maine (June 24, 2012).


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View of the rock piles around the bridge over the Androscoggin River

This afternoon, I’m fishing the stretch of the Androscoggin River between the Pejepscot boat launch in Topsham and the power dam located about 0.5 mile further upstream (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 6 B2). I spend most of my time fishing the rock piles around where the Route 125 bridge crosses the river. The water level is quite high today and more water than normal is flowing through these rocks, which should attract smallies who like to ambush prey from behind submerged boulders.My lure of choice is a 4″ pink soft stickbait. I’m imbedding the large hook inside the body of the bait, but quickly notice that this tactic is causing me problems. I’m getting bites but missing too many fish because the point doesn’t come out of the bait when I set the hook. I switch to the “wacky worm”, which consists of squeezing the stickbait through a small “O” ring before hooking the “O” ring + the bait to a No. 8 fish hook. The results are immediate because the hook is now exposed instead of being embedded inside the bait. Just about every hit yields a bass.

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Bass fishing on Adams Pond, Bridgton, Maine (September 2, 2012)

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View along the southern shoreline of Adams Pond

Adams Pond is located in the town of Bridgton (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 B4). This delightful small pond is located next to Route 107 off Adams Pond Road. Access to the pond is via its small outlet which runs underneath Adams Pond Road. Only hand-carried craft can be launched from this point. Adams Pond is completely wooded on its southern and western shoreline. Adams Pond Road, which runs along the eastern shore of the pond, has a handful of houses. Much of the northern shoreline is occupied by Camp Pondicherry, a girl scout facility. The pond covers 45 acres and has a maximum depth of 51 ft and a mean depth of 20 ft. The bottom consists of clean sand interspersed with boulders and cobbles. The water is absolutely crystal clear, with visibility down to 25 ft! Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.

 

 

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Smallmouth bass and pike fishing on the Androscoggin River, Durham, Maine (July 1, 2012).


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I reach the Durham boat launch off Route 136 (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 A5) on the Androscoggin River at 7 am. The weather is gorgeous, with full sunshine and a light breeze. The water temp is 70F. The air temp is in the low 70’s and forecast to rise into the high 80’s by early afternoon. I position my boat along the bank across from the boat launch and slowly drift down with the current while fishing the wooded shoreline for smallmouth bass using 4″ soft stickbaits. I get no bites, which is unusual since the bass typically are found shallow early in the morning on this river. I turn the engine on and move further downstream to fish another section of the shore, but with the same result…

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Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River, Topsham, Maine (August 19, 2012).


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I reach the Pejepscot boat launch off Route 196 in Topsham (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 6 B2) with Salvador at 4:30 pm. We want to catch the smallmouth bass that are so plentiful in this stretch of the Androscoggin River. The conditions are perfect: the sun is setting and hazy, clouds are forecast to roll in later in the evening, the wind is light.

 

 

 

 

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