Every ice fisherman has had a run in with the “lookers”. Lookers are the fish that come bolting up towards your bait from the bottom, only to stare at it…then slowly swim away or descend back to the bottom. This can be very frustrating, especially if you’re sitting on a pale in the wide open in the cold. There are many adjustments you can make to trick those lookers into biters. Plain and simple, just switch things up. Don’t stick to the same patterns just because you slayed your limit in the same spot last week. Sometimes the same patterns will work day after day, but eventually the fish will want something different, or at least something presented differently.
Drill plenty of holes. You want to be able to hop around and find the most active fish. Even if they stay isolated in one area, panfish will still move around some. By cutting your holes in a circle, or oval shape pattern, you have a better chance of staying on the active school. Spend a few minutes after you finish drilling your holes, and scoop the ice from them. This way, you can focus on the bite while you are “hole hopping”, instead of having to clean them out every time.
Change up your presentation if they are not biting it. If you getting lookers when you are leaving your jig still, try jigging it more, keeping it closer to the bottom, or higher in the water column. Once you catch a fish, remember how you were presenting your bait, and repeat it. This is how you will figure out the fish and find the right presentation for the day.
Keep a selection of different jigs with you. By having a variety of sizes, colors, and styles, you have a better chance of figuring out just what they want. I have used jigs such as the “Lil Cleo” on lakes this year and slaughtered the crappies, but then not catch a single fish with it on a different lake. Every body of water is different.
Take these tips into consideration the next time you’re sitting on the ice wondering why your flasher is marking fish, but they just won’t bite…and hopefully you will fill your limit. This is the pattern I use every time I’m on the ice trying to turn those darn lookers into biters! Be safe…and happy fishing!