Fishin’ All Night Long

“We get up early and we work all day.
We put our time in ‘cause we like to stay up all night long—all night long.”
Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh said it best, “All night long,” Except with us, it’s fishin’ all night long.

We always wanted a permanent sleeper shack, but we knew we wouldn’t use it enough, being from Illinois and all. Then along came pop-ups or hubs. Pop-ups come in various sizes and can be used as sleepers as well as a giant base camp. They can be moved fairly quickly and set up even faster. Being multi-species ice anglers, we never know what we may be after; we get a phone call about a hot bite and off we go. The ATV is loaded on the trailer along with the hubs, locators, tip-ups, an auger, boxes of rods, jigs, bait, cots, lanterns and of course, various sausages.

Sometimes we’ll set up a few tip-ups shallow as we put the camp on the weed edge for crappies. Other times, we’ll put the camp on a reef for perch, walleyes and burbot. Then there are bluegills and largemouths, but that happens during the day mostly.

We’ve got places, secret places where we put up the base camp for the sundown bite and then leave it up overnight so we can arrive at daybreak and spank those bluegills.

One bait we never leave home without are minnows. Minnows will catch crappies, walleyes, perch and pike since that is what they feed upon. We’ll either set up those tip-ups or have rods dead sticked in open holes.

Poppee Matan with a nice crappie.
Poppee Matan with a nice crappie.

Sometimes we get lucky and the action is fast and furious right off the bat. More often than not, we need to attract the fish in from a distance to start a feeding frenzy. Nothing attracts them in better than a spoon, especially when they are on a minnow bite since the shine of the spoon imitates an injured minnow.

While we have tried all types of spoons, nothing works better than the Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon. It has a ton of erratic attraction to call fish in, yet it can be worked subtly to finesse a strike. Poppee likes to add a minnow head to his or a few spikes. I like to fish them “as is,” since they have a built-in design that give a flash on the lift and a flutter on the fall. There are literally hundreds of colors and sizes with Slender Spoons, but for pure minnow imitation, you’ll want to use the hammered series.

Once our holes are drilled and we are set up, it’s time to experiment. Active, aggressive fish will strike larger spoons while those not so active want a smaller offering—experimentation is the key. The beauty of the base camp is that you can have a lot of holes to choose from and have rods pre-rigged with different Slender Spoons, so it is easy to grab one and switch out.

We like Frabill’s Ice Hunter series ice rods. The small, 1/16-ounce size works nicely with the 26-inch quick tip model that we designed for panfish. The larger sizes can be used with the Ice Hunter 27-inch medium-light or 32-inch medium-heavy walleye rods. You want a rod with a lot of “snap” to impart a quick action to the Slender Spoon on the lift. Then you follow it down as it flutters. A lot of the hits will come on the fall so quick reflexes are necessary.

Our base camp is Frabill’s new Bro Hub, which is 80 by 80 by 80 inches. And the New Bunker 450 is super-sized at 160 by 80 by 80 inches—that’s plenty of legroom, headroom and cot room.

New this season at Custom Jigs & Spins are the Pro Series of Slender Spoons with UV Glow finishes that are perfect for nighttime action. Even Poppee could catch fish on them when we tested them out last year. These finishes come in variations of Red, Blue and Green glows for all clarity of water.


Walt Matan and his father Poppee are the chief lure designers for Custom Jigs & Spins. For more information on ice fishing and to see all of Custom Jigs & Spins tackle log on to or call 800-831-5535 for a free, all-new catalog. You can also log on to to check out the Ice Hunter Series rod and reel combos and the Sentinel one-man tents.