Turnin’ up the Speed to Follow Flowage Fish


It’s a high-speed world we live in: fast cars, faster internet and now it’s time for high-speed ice fishing. Drill those holes. Snap that rod. Catch those fish.

We’ve been accused of getting slow in our old age and it’s true, once we locate the fish we tend to hunker down and finesse rather than drill and move like the old days. But we tested out some secret weapons last year and they fish fast, so watch out, fasten your seat belt—it’s time for run and gun ice fishing.

Three species we’ll focus on are walleyes, trout and wipers. These fish will school up, and the school can be thinned a little. But if the group keeps moving, you should too. You’ll need a lightweight, high-speed auger, a lightweight, maneuverable shelter, a good flasher with GPS and a high-speed lure to catch the aggressive fish.

Lake Petenwell/Castle Rock Guide and buddy, Jesse Quale, of Green Water Walleye guide service, knows a lot about how walleyes school on flowages. He puts his clients on the hot spots time and time again, but when the action slows, it isn’t time to eat a bratwurst and wait them out: It’s time to find the active fish once again. So, he hops on the ATV with an auger, GPS and rod and off he goes.

Flowage walleyes relate to the main river channel. They may hunker down deep or move up on the edges or flats. Either way, twists and turns in the channel are hot spots. (Add some wood to nearly any hot spot and you have a secret spot.)

We gave Jesse some prototype jigging minnows we were testing last year. Custom Jigs & Spins RPM (rotating, power, minnow) is what we have deemed our latest Custom Jigs & Spins creation. It’s a jigging minnow with a larger sweep than most, super sharp hooks, a built-in swivel to eliminate line twist and a no-front hook to snag the hole. The base material is lead and it is encased in plastic. We’ve got some hot minnow-imitating finishes that the fish find irresistible.

The RPM is a great search lure. So when Jesse is looking for where the school of walleyes has moved to, it’s all he needs to make contact. Of course, it helps that he has hundreds of spots marked on his GPS, for run and gun action.

Iowa’s Lake McBride has some oversized aggressive wipers. A wiper is a cross between a striped bass and a white bass. In open water you locate the schools by following the birds diving and gorging on minnows. The wipers are down below and then can be tricked with topwaters. They will come flying up and blast the lure on the surface.

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In the winter these fish will hole up in the 30-foot depths. Savvy ice anglers like Custom Jigs & Spins President Bob Gillisipie positions himself on the points that jut out adjacent to the deep water. He drills a series of holes from the edge to the end of the points typically over 12 to 16 feet of water.

The wipers are holed up deep, but aggressive jigging will get them to move up. The RPM gets them to blast up from the bottom and rip the pole out of your hand. This is combat fishing to the max. These fish don’t appear on your locator; you set up in prime locations and try to jig them in. All of the sudden, though, your locator screen is solid red and the fish are everywhere. When you hook into a wiper, you definitely know it—they peel off the line and smoke the reel, fighting hard all the way to the hole.

Jigging spoons like Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoons and Vertiglo Tackle Lightnin’ Spoons can be aggressively jigged for hot action. Last year, Bob found that these aggressive fish were even more interested in the new RPM—a quick sweep of the rod or several quick snaps were the attractor hot motions.

For more high-speed angling, head to the frozen harbors on Lake Michigan in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. Brown trout, steelhead and cohos will inhabit these harbors. Our tool of the trade for trout fishing is the heavy Frabill Ice Hunter, a 38-inch medium combo designed by our buddy Eric Haataja of Big Fish Guide Service. This rod is perfectly balanced for jigging with the new RPM. Harbor fish can be anywhere; they swim all around, will come right up to your offering many times uninterested, and then all of the sudden, turn and slam it.

The new RPM comes in 12 colors for all species of fish. The Blue Tiger and the Emerald Shiner colors work particularly well on trout in the harbors. We use short, repetitive rod snaps to attract the fish in 3 to 4 feet off the bottom in the clear water.

While testing them out last year, we caught crappies, walleyes, largemouths, trout, wipers, channel cats and northern pike. It truly is a multi-species lure. For high-speed drilling we prefer the lightweight ION electric auger. For the ultimate in mobility we don’t leave home without our Frabill Sentinel one-man flip-over tents.


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 customjigs.com or call 800-831-5535 for a free, all-new catalog. You can also visit frabill.com to check out the Ice Hunter Series rod and reel combos and the Sentinel one-man tents.