Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal
I didn’t need to look at a calendar to know that it was the month of February.
My depth finder was lit up like a Christmas tree with fish signals, but nothing was happening. A tiny 1/100th-ounce jig was hanging on fresh, two-pound test line. It was tipped with a micro grub body with a long, skinny tail. A tiny piece of waxworm added some scent.
But even this finesse presentation was being ignored.
Yes, that happens a lot in February. Ice fishing success slows down. That doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish, it just means you have to pay attention to details. And, you just have to hang in there, because sometime during the day the bite will take off, and you will be hard pressed to get your bait back down to pull up another fish before it all ends.
I was fishing a farm pond northeast of Hartington, Neb. I had met Gary Howey and Dani Thoene, both of Hartington, at the pond a few minutes earlier.
Dani was running the gasoline-powered auger digging holes all over. Gary was shoveling the ice chips away from each hole. So, all the hard work was done before I even got down there. Imagine that.
I dropped the transducer down one of the holes and took a look. Ten feet deep and nothing there.
Undaunted, I dropped down my tiny jig and before long the fish showed up. Probably bluegills.
Meanwhile, Gary and Dani were reporting the same thing. Lots of fish, but no biters.
Of course, that changed.
Dani was the first to score a small bluegill. Gary added another shortly after. Another finally took my small jig a few minutes later, and the smell of “skunk” wafted away into the cool, clear air.
We were each taking fish from time to time, mostly small bluegills but occasionally we’d get a good one, seven to eight inches.
Before long we were joined by Dani’s brother Anthony and Melvin Kruse, both of Hartington.