Monday, January 06, 2014

The Dodger and Jig setup for ice fishing

After posting a few videos, I have gotten a few questions about the Dodger and Jig set up I use ice fishing. I believe it is one of the most effective set ups I use ice fishing.

Prior to using the set up, my go to ice fishing lure was a spoon. Especially on Big Lake, what I have noticed is that most fish, other than burbot, rarely strike at the lure body. They always seem to strike at the lower part of the lure...or the hook it seemed. Could that be possible? That they are striking at the hook and not the lure?

It would explain why I seem to catch 8 inch salmon and 12 inch rainbows on a spoon that is 5 inches in total length including the hook. There is no way these fish could have consumed prey of similar size in real life. So why did I hook both of them in the mouth?

I've seen my aquarium fish do it, I've seen my kid's guinea pigs do it, I have seen dogs do it. I've seen my kids do it! lol. Do what? They don't seem to really care about a
piece of food or a toy until one picks the food or toy up. Then all of the sudden, the other one is interested in it and if possible, will chase around the other trying to take it...sometimes even when there are other tid bits of food or toys readily available. The things that make you (or at least me) go "hmmmmm......"
As I watch my videos and the fish through the ice when I am using large spoons, they don't really smash at it, and they always seem to strike at the bottom where the hook is. Yes, I have had fish come in and simply inhale the entire lure. But that is very rare...especially when using larger spoons.
In addition to this behavior, often times, while using a larger spoon, I will have smaller fish in the 12 to 16 inch range come into the spoon and not strike it. I often have a second rod set up with a much smaller lure. Often times my observation was that as soon as I dropped the smaller lure down, the fish would strike it. So while I knew the smaller lure was better at getting strikes, I just wasn't confident that such a small lure would have the attracting power to call in fish from a distance.
So to solve the issue, the dodger and rig combination was born! After using it quite successfully, I noticed that very rarely, if ever, did the dodger attract strikes from the fish. Sure, a few larger dollies would come in and tap at it, but never smash the dodger like a lure despite the fact that dodger is not really any larger than the spoons I use in Big Lake (they do tend to be wider).
My theory on why this set is so effective is that not only does the larger dodger do a better job of calling in fish from a longer distance, but once there, I can offer up a smaller lure that the fish better hit immediately because if it doesn't the "other fish" (aka the dodger/flasher) will get it first.  I believe it is this competitive nature of most predators that really is the key to this setup.

The only major downside I have with this set up is you really need to be watching the lure whether it be staring down the hole or watching a camera.  The slack line during the jigging process makes it much more difficult to detect strike if you are not watching.  But my experience has been most of the fish will hold on to the lure long enough that as long as the next upstroke is quick enough, fish get hooked. 

It doesn't seem to mater much what you place below the dodger.  But my favorites are a leech pattern type jig or even a weighted egg sucking leech.  Next would be swim baits or small rubber minnows and tube jigs.

Give it a try.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

Vexilar FishPhone Wifi Camera review

So for Christmas I ordered a Vexilar FishPhone Camera system.  It's an underwater camera that is connected to wifi which means you can watch all of the action on your smartphone or table.  I got mine from Cabelas for $190.

I got a chance to test it out on Big Lake, AK January 4 & 5.  Both days were dark and dreary with about 2 feet of ice with snow covering the ice.  This would be very difficult conditions for any camera let alone a sub $200 camera.

The camera comes with 50ft of cord but I fished it in 10 feet of water as the camera was definitely having issues getting enough light.  One of the features of this camera is that it will shoot and record in Black & White until there is enough light and then it automatically switches over to color.

During the two days I fished, there was only a two hour window on the second day where the camera had enough light to shoot in color.

Day one was much darker than day two.  The first fish was shot in only 7 ft of water, but even peering down into the hole, I could barely make out the bottom.  The second series of shots were in 12 feet of water and it was a little later in the day so there was more light.

The second day was a little bit brighter and the result was much better. This was in 10ft of water,  About half way through the video, you can see the camera win action in color.

I have to be honest and say I am not quite sure what score I would give to this camera.  As many of you know, I love posting videos and I was hoping the image quality of the recording would be much better.  But shooting at 240P the resolution is not enough to really watch it on a full screen monitor unless you are standing a few feet away from it.

However, it did allow me to fish all day without being hunched over the hole staring down in an awkward position for hours on typical routine.  The image you see on the iPad was much better than the image it was recording.

So the bottom line is that I would not purchase this system if your goal is to post videos on the web of your fishing.  The resolution and light gathering abilities is just not there.  BUT if you want to see your lure in action, it definitely works as advertised.  Perhaps the best thing about it is there is virtually no delay in the picture and therefore you can use it to set the hook.  But for $200, its a great toy to have and it added enjoyment to my fishing day.  So as long as you know its limitation and are ok with them, I would recommend.

So in summary:

Pros: Inexpensive camera that added a lot of enjoyment to my day and saved my neck and back.  What was really cool was that when a fish came through the hole, I could point it out and everybody fishing with me could see the action for themselves.  Impossible to do if you are peering down a hole.
The batteries on the unit lasted all day ( 6hours) with juice left over and I was even more surprised to see my iPad with the brightness turned down lasted 6 hours and it was only down to 50% batteries.

Cons:  Terrible light gathering qualities.  It records in only 240P  The LED light seems worthless as a lighting mechanism in all but the clearest waters.  The LED light was useful though in getting the camera pointed in the right direction.