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Late Season Crappie:

 It's mid February. The ice has been hit or miss so far in many states in 2017. Ice one week, open water the next. Although many think this is a bad situation for an ice angler, seasoned veterans, like K&E Stopper Lures Pro, Raymond Tiffany, take full advantage of these situations.

Warm weather and variable ice conditions mean only one thing when it all comes down to it... The fish have not been as heavily pressured by fisherman as they would normally be when ice conditions are solid. It makes for a perfect scenario to take advantage of some mid/late season giants, and catch them in a relaxed, unpressured state.

While live bait is very popular with many, if not most, ice anglers, Ray will almost always turn to finesse plastic tails for nearly every species. "You can offer the fish all of the same movements of live bait, with additional bite triggering movements, that you won't get from live bait. Add in color concepts you will never find in live bait, and the fish will eat!", states Ray.

On a recent trip to central Wisconsin, Ray decided to fish a very popular winter destination in his home state. "You have to get their early. The cold evenings usually make for great ice in the morning, but as the warm air arrives, the lake begins to get sloppy."

Success came quickly at first light, with giant crappie high in the water column. Time to finesse a strike. "I work my finesse tails differently that most." Ray states, with a reluctance to share one of his secrets. "I don't jig my rod up and down, like most. Instead, I shake my rod from side to side. I want minimal movement to my jig, while producing maximum movement to the plastic tail."

Ray goes on to add. "Jigging your bait up and down, in my opinion, isn't a natural presentation. Although it can trigger a bite, and certainly can draw fish from a distance, I feel my technique triggers more strikes, and also results in larger fish biting." "When the fish come up to strike, I never stop moving my bait. Have you ever seen a minnow stop swimming and play dead when a fish approaches? I may slow down, but I never stop."

On this particular trip, the bite shut down within an hour and a half of first light. The school became lethargic and moved on. Ray was able to produce some dandy fish for a meal in that short period of time.




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