Original post made by Dennis Steele(Fishhead) on March 4, 2004
Up here in the far north there is a good two feet of ice still.On the lakes we have been catching cats all winter through the ice.They hold off drop offs near deep holes in tight schools much like bullhead "swarms" and will suspend from about 5 feet to 15 feet off the bottom.These schools will move around the hole and you have to keep moving with them.Using a flasher style sonar by shooting it through the ice to find the suspended targets is the best way to find these schools.Don't stop to fish untill you see LOTS of fish on your sonar.Once you find the school the fishing can be fast.Catching 30 fish per person in a couple hours or less is not uncommon. In MN we have a limit of 5 cats per person so over harvest is not that much of a concern here. The bite can be very light and almost undectible.My favorite technique to detecting the bite is to balance your rod on your finger and slowly lift your bait up.When you feel a little weight and your rod tip dips slightly,set the hook.Another technique is to use a small bobber and when you see the bobber slowly move across your hole set the hook. Small offerings seem to work best this time of the year.We use the head of a minnow on a 1/8th or 1/4oz jigging spoon.Color can make a big differnce with glow red being my favorite and glow chartruese coming in second.
The rivers, where open have been producing some excellent fishing also. Below dams on the upper inside turns and points of wing dams is a good place to start.Chopped up bait fish from the dam collect there and attract the cats.Here too the cats are schooled up in tight schools. Deep to medium depth holes will aslo hold some cats.Look for holes with medium current and rock or wood scatered about on the bottom.The current is needed to prevent the cats from being silted in and the structure on the bottom allows the cats a place to rest out of the current.I believe that the cats become active during pressure changes and increses in current or temperature and are dormant otherwise. When fresh melt off enters the rivers the schools of cats will move toward shallow water shelves fed by creeks,feeding on winter kill washed down by the creeks.The break or drop offs near an eddy or in the eddy seem to be key locations.