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ABOUT OUTDOORS COLUMN: Ice fishing with jigging spoons

Park Rapids fishing enthusiast Tim Schmid relies on jigging spoons for his ice-fishing success. (Gary Korsgaden/For the Enterprise)

Jigging spoons were lures used most often by experienced bass fishermen in the early years. They are one of the few baits that work well in deep water.

In today's world of fishing, jigging spoons have found a permanent home in an ice anglers tackle tray.

Jigging spoons are thick, narrow and heavy, designed to sink quickly and vertically jigged under the ice.

Slender and full spoons will fall slowly, wobble erratically, swing side to side as it drops. Jigging rapalas and Northlands puppet minnow differ in size and profile which, along with horizontal straight, circle and semi-circle swimming actions, afford the angler an opportunity to mix it up.

All through those early years, anglers were reluctant to accept the fact that a simple piece of metal could outproduce a live minnow impaled on a hook. But it did.

One cold, late-winter day — more years than I care to remember — it became reality for me. Parked on a favorite crappie-walleye honey hole, patiently watching the up and down motion of my bobber signaling the minnow was still alive below it, a resident fisherman on the lake strolled over, politely asking me if he could use a hole I had cut. Of course, I said, but not without my warning that fishing wasn't terrific.

Quietly, he unhooked from the rod what looked to be a flashy, slender piece of metal. Dropped it in the hole without a minnow, lowered the line jigged up and down a couple of times, and seconds later, a hook set and a plump walleye plopped on the ice. It was a scene that repeated itself with occasional crappie — until he caught enough fish.

Before heading in, he shared what he was using. The lure one of the first vertical jigging spoons, Bay De Noc's Swedish pimple.

Nowadays a vast selection of jigging spoons of color and sizes are available, in both vertical and horizontal swimming actions. Usually weighing between one-eighth and 1 ounce, the three-quart ounce is the best choice for walleyes.

Anglers can build confidence by adding enticements to their jigging spoons, like a live piece of minnow waxworm and plastic bug imitations.

Smaller jigging rapalas and Northand

puppet minnows are a late-season solution for suspended crappies hanging out in the central lake basin.

Rattle-bearing jigging spoons get the attention of most walleye nuts. Others choose glow-in-the-dark colors and "turn-on-the-switch" lighted spoons for early mornings, late evenings and in the dark fishing.

During the daytime, in deepwater, around suspended schools of silvery baitfish, like ciscoes and shiners, or if fishing is slow, jigging spoons with silent bling, glitz and flutter will get them going.

Realize the fish-catching ability to jigging spoons. Get out and try them.

Here is a tip or two: the attention-getter is a 9-inch or so lift, then follow with two subtle lifts or twitches of the rod tip to get them to chomp. Pay attention to the distance maintained by the fish reacting to your lure by watching your depth sounder screen. What I am saying is you see fish at 16 feet, and your lure is at 13 feet, 3 feet is the what you try and maintain as it's the fish's comfort range for that day.

What are the biggest mistakes beginners make with these lures? Overworking them (big lifts over two feet) and holding the jigging spoon at the same level as the fish. It's unnatural for prey to hang around at the same depth. When fish are convinced it is food, they will close in and smack it.