Cold Water Jigging from Shore

     I always struggle this time of year in Madison.  Line freezes to the guides so fast you can't cast, the fish are still deep, and the ice is to thin to venture out on.  Don't get me wrong I'm still fishing, their just isn't a whole hell of a lot of catching going on.  The high today was cold and with the wind chill it was a few degrees below that.  Madison parks department has pulled all the docks so finding productive areas to fish from the shore is becoming a real challenge.  Still for whatever reason I suit up and head out into the blinding cold.
     Jigging is the name of the game for me right now.  Off break walls, bridges, and the terrace, if I can drop a vertical line off the side you'll probably find me out there.  I am almost exclusively jigging Echotails, mostly for walleyes, maybe the occasional perch.  Really I am just looking for anything that is willing to bite.  For the walleyes I like to use the 1/2 oz. for perch the 1/10th oz. is hard to beat.  Being able to swap out the tails to find what the fish like really helps and nobody can argue the effectiveness of a blade bait when the water gets cold.  I use short ice rods for this type of jigging since the fewer number of line guides helps to keep the line from freezing to the rod.  Another bonus with the shorter rods is that it keeps my arms in closer to my body so I don't get cold as quickly.  As for line I alternate between braid and fluorocarbon.  I like the braid when fishing over the terrace wall since you never know when a musky or pike might pop up and decide that Echotail looks irresistible and the fluorocarbon pretty much everywhere else.
     Technique wise their really isn't all that much to it.  I start at the bottom and slowly work my way back up through the water column.  Jig for a while on the bottom, then the middle, then just a few feet from the surface.  If that doesn't work I move on to another spot (see pretty simple).  Just make sure you keep in constant contact with your Echotail.  I see people all the time rip the bait and then just drop the rod tip.  I think people forget that fish will hit the lure when it's falling and those walleyes can grab a bait and let it go before you can react so after you rip the Echotail or any jig for that matter follow it back down with your rod.  I bet your catch rate will go up, and for those that are wondering this works on the ice too.
     So give these ideas a try if you find yourself out wandering around the shoreline in the cold.  Soon the ice will cover the lakes and the fish will be a lot easier to catch.  You just need to suit up, grab your rod, and brave the elements.  Some days it pays off, usually though you just get to enjoy some fresh air.  Never fished in the cold?  You can find some info here.
     Tight Lines.

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