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Ice-fishing Friday: The Lethal Attract-and-Trigger Trick for Hooking Walleye, Perch and Northern Pike

Via Gord Pyzer

Attract and Trigger Bites

The best hardwater presentations work in two phases. Here’s how to do it.

It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy catching crappies, pike, saugers, walleye or yellow perch, if you search YouTube or Vimeo for underwater winter footage of your favourite fish, you’ll find something to watch. And when you do, take notice of when the fish hit the lure. As you’ll likely see, they invariably bite when the angler pauses the bait and lets it hang motionless in the water column. When the angler keeps incessantly jigging the lure, however, the fish grow tired of the constant movement and swim away.

To entice pike and other fish, pause your jigging and let the lure hang motionless. Credit: Gord Pyzer.
To entice pike and other fish, pause your jigging and let the lure hang motionless. Credit: Gord Pyzer.

As I’ve long been telling anglers, there are two phases to almost every successful ice-fishing presentation for crappies, pike, saugers, walleye and yellow perch. The first is the attracting phase, when you move your lure and call in the fish. The second is the triggering phase, when you pause your bait and let them eat it. While you can often fool lake trout and whitefish with this attract-and-trigger trick, you can also entice those two aggressive cold-water fish to chase after your escaping lure when you see them appear on the sonar screen.

Bonus Tip: Heads Up!

Sandra Cheung
Sandra Cheung

Most anglers know how important it is to keep their lures above the fish. So what do they do when they spot a big black crappie, trout, walleye or yellow perch swim across the sonar screen and hover below their bait? Typically, they drop it down to put it in front of the fish’s nose, only to watch the fish swim away. Why does that happen? Because that’s not how predators and prey interact.

Instead, when you can force a fish to commit and rise up to your bait or lure, you can almost guarantee it will bite. Part of the reason for this is pure fish biology at work. Look at the head of a crappie, for example, and you’ll see that its eyes are positioned above the lateral line. See what I’m saying? The fish want to swim up to attack your offering, so by keeping it above them, you can excite the entire school.

Every Friday this winter we’ll be sharing Outdoor Canada’s coolest ice fishing tips for 2018. Check back regularly to learn about the latest tackle, tips and techniques for icing more walleye, perch, northern pike, lake trout, crappies and whitefish.

Gord Pyzer

Gord Pyzer

Fishing Editor Gord Pyzer is widely regarded as Canada's most scientific angler. Known in fishing circles as Doctor Pyzer, he worked for 30 years as a senior manager with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources before devoting all his energies to fishing. A member of the Canadian Angler Hall of Fame, the award-winning writer is also an internationally sought out speaker, tournament angler and field editor with In-Fisherman Magazine and Television. As well, he co-hosts the Real Fishing Radio Show with Bob Izumi. Catch Gord on the Outdoor Journal Radio Show live every Saturday morning 8:05AM EST. If you're in southern Ontario, tune your radio to Sportsnet 590 The FAN AM or visit and listen live online.

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