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280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Latest Issue


What’s at the “Business End”?

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been taking a closer look at how to make your venture onto the hard water a successful one. We’ve looked at sonar equipment to improve your chances of finding fish in the first place, and then we delved into the devices used to make the connection with your

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been taking a closer look at how to make your venture onto the hard water a successful one. We’ve looked at sonar equipment to improve your chances of finding fish in the first place, and then we delved into the devices used to make the connection with your intended quarry. While all of that is important, I would be remiss if we didn’t take a closer look at what’s at the business end of the line; after all, that’s where the final connection is made before you pull that fish up onto the ice.

Size is a critical factor; in fact, when it comes right down to it, size plays a major role in all types of fishing. One of the biggest mistakes I see is fishermen using the wrong size gear and lures or baits for the fish they are after. I learned a long time ago to match my equipment and, most importantly, my lures or bait to the size of the fish I’m targeting. Not only does that presentation at the end of your line have to be something the fish is likely to want to eat it must also be of a size that can be taken.

When it comes to ice fishing, more often than not, I will be targeting panfish; thus, I opt for tiny ice fishing jigs and very small baits.

If I am setting tip-ups for larger fish like pike, bass, walleyes, or pickerel, I will go to larger hook sizes and baits; for example, a two to three-inch live minnow is a good possibility.

When it comes to jigging a small ice fishing rod directly over a hole for panfish, I will usually have a small 1/32-ounce jig of about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long; to the tiny hook, I often add a wax worm, mealworm, or even a small piece of garden worm.

If you’re fishing for crappies, a small 1-2 inch live minnow can also be a good choice.

If you are pursuing trout through the ice, this same approach will also work.

About the only time, I use bait these days is when I’m ice fishing since I think it greatly improves your chances of hooking up on the hard water.

While I’ve been concentrating on the business end of the presentation here, I don’t want to neglect some other very important factors when it comes to using the right size.

Line size can also be a critical factor; simply put, you should match your line size to the fish you are pursuing. For example, you don’t need 12-pound test line to catch panfish through the ice — in fact; you don’t need it anytime you are targeting panfish. I generally use a 2-4-pound test line; it’s harder for the fish to detect, and the lighter line is easier to detect the light hits that are common when ice fishing.

Another item or piece of equipment that deserves a closer look is the bobber or “strike detector,” as it is known in the fly fishing business. I fish both methods through the ice; I generally don’t use a strike detector device since I prefer to “feel” the strike, but often when I’m fishing two rods at the same time, I will rig one with a bobber of some type. If you are new to ice fishing, it might be a good idea to use a bobber until you get the hang of feeling a strike without one. However, the main thing to remember is that the bobber should also be small or very sensitive to the slightest disturbance since the winter bite can often be very light, and a large bobber may not reveal that light hit.

Well, we’ve had some pretty cold weather lately, and the ice is beginning to form again, so maybe in the not-too-distant future, we can be putting some of these thoughts in practice — I’m ready.