Frisch: the do-nothing bobber platform catches fish

This attention is certainly deserved as jigging methods and jigging lures catch a lot of fish through the ice. Over the past two years, however, the importance of minnows presented in a “doing nothing” manner under the floats has been evident to this fisherman and my fishing partners.

The last two winters I’ve spent a lot of hours fishing for winter crap. Small jigging spoons and tungsten jigs with various baits have certainly been productive. However, over the seasons, shit minnows caught with small, single hooks performed better than jigs and spoons on most trips.

As winter progresses, the poops that remain have not only seen a variety of jigged lures, but are also the ones that are a bit more wary and often require more subtle and natural appearances to trigger a bite. These fish are the ones that can, at least sometimes, be tempted to eat a minnow presented on a hook.

Additionally, last winter, on a trip to Red Lake where walleye were the target, spoons and slipped bait aggressively produced numerous fish. However, some fish, especially several in the middle of the day, have been caught on minnows caught under the floats.

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These mid-day walleyes, like mid-winter shits, weren’t as aggressive and therefore the jigs were less appealing. Still, the minnows struggling in their faces were a bit too tempting for some, even when the walleyes were not actively foraging.

While shit-fished and walleye-caught floats are often thought of as “do nothing” rigs, there are some things that make these simple presentations more appealing to the fish and even more effective.

First, the small jigs and single hooks with split weights added above work to feature minnows below the floats. For me, I often favor a simple crochet because I think it’s the ultimate in a subtle and natural presentation.

Also, when I bait minnows on these hooks, I prefer to impale the hook lightly under the skin and behind the dorsal fin of the bait. A lightly hooked minnow will stay sharp and swim better, which is often more attractive to fish.

Even when a minnow swims well, I still like to change it regularly, as a tired minnow may not be as appealing to fish as a fresh, more lively offering.

Finally, using the right bobber is important. I prefer to use Ice Buster Bobbers.

These feature a float design that works great for accurately presenting bait at a chosen depth and they also make it easier to land the fish. Plus, Ice Busters can be trimmed to barely float and be super sensitive.

A barely buoyant float is a better fish catcher because it slides easily underwater, making it less likely to scare off a wary fish than its larger, more buoyant counterpart.

Remember to add a “do nothing” float line to your arsenal using some of the suggestions just given. Some days this addition will add a fish or two to your catch, while others can mean the difference between a few fish and no fish.

As always, good luck on the ice and don’t forget to include a youngster on your next outdoor adventure.

Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest television series. Visit for more “fishy” stuff.

Mike Frisch

Mike Frisch

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