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Two-Timing Tactics

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Two-Timing Tactics

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Gord Pyzer has shown countless times how two-timing for black crappies can pay huge dividends. • Credit: Gord Pyzer

Fishing Tactics for Northern Ontario Ice Anglers

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Most Northern Ontario ice anglers are aware of the fact that in the winter you are allowed to fish with two rods, tip-ups, or a combination of them. So, it is always wise to take advantage of a second hole to double your chances of catching fish.

What aren't as well known, however, are the strategies you can employ that go far beyond simply drilling a second hole and plunking down a minnow. And the tactics vary depending on the species of fish that you're seeking.

Take lake trout, for example, which are perhaps the hardest fighting fish sought by ice anglers visiting Northern Ontario.  Whenever we're ice fishing for lakers, we always drill at least eight to 10 holes at each spot – even if there are only two or three of us fishing – so that we can walk between the holes and fish in a variety of depths.

You are allowed to ice fish with two rods, tip-ups, or a combination in the winter time, so, take advantage of the second hole to double your chances of catching fish.

Setting up off an island point or sunken reef, we'll use our sonar units to carefully check how deep it is beneath each hole, so that we can strategically spend some fishing time prospecting over shallow, deep and mid-water depths. Usually from 25 to 30 feet deep, all the way out to 80, 90, even 100 plus feet.

We also typically space the holes a good distance apart so that we can saturate and carpet bomb as much of the structure as possible.

Many folks refer to it as "contour trolling," but call it what you will. When you strategically lay out your holes this way, you can efficiently and effectively check many different water depths quickly. And if you don't catch any trout and decide to pack up and move after an hour or so, you can depart feeling confident that it wasn't because of your presentation but rather the location.

There simply were no fish present.  So you move on to the next potential hot spot and start the process over again.

Gord Pyzer likes to "two-time" for walleyes, black crappies and yellow perch, like these Northwestern Ontario jumbos.

On the other hand, if you do catch a trout, as is more likely the case, always pay attention to the depth of water in the hole you hooked it. Then drill several others around the structure at the same depth.

With lake trout, in particular, but walleyes, yellow perch, black crappies and whitefish as well, a key ingredient to determining the pattern each day is isolating the "sweet depth" at which the fish are swimming.

Just remember, however, that one fish does not a pattern make. So concentrate your ice fishing activity in the prime zone, but keep checking from time to time the other holes you drilled. 

It keeps the trout and trout anglers honest.

A much less practiced two timing tactic, on the other hand, is one I employ as a regular course of action when ice fishing on a lake that offers a variety of species, like walleyes and jumbo yellow perch. You frequently find the fish sharing the same habitat, so it is not uncommon to catch a walleye, drop your lure back down the hole, and nab a yellow perch.

More frequently, however, if you only drill one hole, you see a fish appear on your sonar screen, wobble your lure enticingly, feel a bump... and then miss it.

Gord Pyzer and In-Fisherman television host, Doug Stange have shown countless times how two-timing for black crappies can pay huge dividends.

Sometimes it's the result of a lethargic fish, but more often than not, what you're feeling are perch bumping the bait meant for bigger walleyes. It's precisely what I had happening on Christmas Eve, when I snuck out for a few hours of fishing before the festivities began.

Sensing that I was positioned over a nice mixed school of walleyes and yellow perch, I quickly drilled three holes spaced only a few inches apart. Into the middle hole I dropped the transducer from my Humminbird Ice 55 sonar unit so that I could monitor the #2 Syclops Lite spoon, tipped with a minnow head that I was jigging for walleyes in the right side hole, and the Clam Speed Spoon with the chain link and smaller hook meant for yellow perch in the hole to the left.

Whenever I spotted a walleye enter the scene on the sonar screen, it almost automatically scooted over and smacked the  Syclops Lite. But if I felt something whack it and miss, I pulled it up several feet so that it was out of the way, so to speak, and the only lure left dangling was the Clam Speed Spoon. As if on cue, the perch would sidle over and inhale it.

Talk about the perfect one-two combination punch.

Gord Pyzer, shown here with a beautiful Sunset Country lake trout, always drills at least eight or 10 holes at each spot so he can walk between the holes and fish in a variety of depths.

I should quickly mention, also, that I like two-timing this way when I'm ice fishing for a single species – be it walleyes, black crappies or yellow perch.

When you get a school fired up, it lets you put two completely different baits or lures in front of the fishes’ noses so they never get conditioned to only one offering.  And many times, as Doug Stange and I have shown countless times on In-Fisherman Television, one fish pleads for one presentation, while the next one demands the other.

It is so easy and rewarding to do when you become a Northern Ontario two-timer. 

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