Northpoint Marina located in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois opens two of their piers or docks for ice fishing. The sign posted states that you can use "H" and "I" docks at your own risk. The ice in the harbor today averages ¾ to 1 inch thick. This thickness of ice is not safe to walk on. It is possible to walk out on the pier or dock and drill a hole thru the ice next to the pier. You can then stay on the pier and fish thru the ice. The average depth of the marina at the southwest corner is about 7 feet deep. During the summer there are large weed beds in the marina, these areas will support a population of panfish and bass.
I arrived at the marina at 9:00 am. The equipment used was a bucket, vexilar flasher, ice fishing rod, and ice fishing scoop. The thickness of the ice made breaking a hole easy. Just sit on the pier and kick a hole in the ice. This can easily spook the fish, but I was the only one fishing this day. If other anglers were present you should drill a hole with an ice auger. I first broke about 15 holes thru the ice in several different locations. Then each hole was checked with the vexilar to determine if any panfish were present. It is also possible to shoot directly thru the ice with the vexilar flasher if the ice is wet. At times I will carry a bottle of water with some canning salt mixed in to wet the ice for this purpose. After checking several holes a small school of panfish was located.
The ice fishing technique is to use a small jig tipped with either a wax worm or spike. The rod is a special designed ice fishing rod 30 inches long that tapers to a tip that is about 1/16 of an inch thick. The tip looks like a cat's whisker and is extremely sensitive. The fishing line used is 2 pound test Berkley Trilene. The jig is lowered to the bottom and then raised several inches and twitched in place. Using the vexilar flasher it is easy to see the bottom and the jig. Any fish that approaches the jig is also plotted on the flasher display. It is possible to raise the jig above an approaching fish and determine if the fish is following the jig. Then the jig is twitched repeatedly and held steady in position. With a thin rod tip it is possible to determine the slightest movement of the jig. You set the hook by raising the rod tip.
This day a mixed bag of several bluegills, sunfish, rock bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass were caught. Remember that all Bass in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan are Catch and Release.
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