Jigging up Action During the ‘Magic Hour’


Successful ice fishing usually involves finding fish and then manipulating at least some of them into biting. I often spend most of my ice fishing time fishing during what I call the “magic hour.” That magic hour is late in the day when daylight gives way to night’s darkness. This is when lots of fish species in many lakes seem to be most active.

When fishing the magic hour, I have my most success using aggressive jigging motions designed to call fish in from a distance, and, hopefully, trigger them to bite. I will be the first to admit that there are days when a simple minnow fished on a plain hook below a bobber or tip-up catches the most fish, but I think even those fish are often attracted to some jigging activity on a nearby line as well. Whatever the case, using aggressive jigging lures is often a good way to ice fish whether it is on the actual jigging line or on a nearby “set” line.

For many years I have relied on the Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon tipped with a minnow head for calling in, and often catching, winter walleyes, perch, and other fish species. This spoon has a noisy brass rattle that alerts fish from a wide radius to its presence.

This spoon fishes “heavy” so using short, aggressive jigging motions designed to activate the rattle and give the bait action is often effective in bringing fish in close to the bait. Once I see fish on my sonar, I often slow my cadence a bit and, in fact, may even hold the bait still to trigger what is often an aggressive bite. Experimenting with what exact motion or non-motion triggers curious fish is often the key to success.

Recently, the Buck-Shot Spoon has been enhanced, and is now available in UV-brightened finishes, making it even more visible and effective when fishing during the magic hour or in waters with low visibility.

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While the Buck-Shot is best fished with short, aggressive motions, sometimes a slower-falling flutter spoon creates the flash and flutter that feeding fish prefer. The new Buck-Shot Flutter Spoon combines the fluttering action fish at times prefer, has a glass rattle for additional sound and is available in UV color patterns too.

I had a chance to experiment with this new spoon late last winter when targeting jumbo perch, and saw how effective this addition to the Buck-Shot Rattle “family” can be. We winter anglers now have a rattling “heavy” spoon for when the fish want aggressive, erratic movements and another that falls slower with more of a fluttering action.

Experimentation and careful monitoring of a winter flasher will be the best way to determine what the fish on a given day prefer in spoons and jigging motions used with those particular spoons. Vexilar’s family of winter flasher units do a great job of showing me my bait, approaching fish and how they react to my jig and jigging motions.

If getting more positive reactions to your winter-jigging motions is the goal, some of these suggestions regarding winter lures can help you achieve that goal. As always, good luck on the ice and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoor adventure.

Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co-host of the popular “Fishing the Midwest” television series. Learn more by visiting fishingthemidwest.com or following “Fishing the Midwest” on Facebook.