HASTINGS — Mike Boedeker is an international ice fishing champion, having led the United States team to world domination in 2010.
I’ve been after him for some time to show me his tricks. So when he recently invited me to join him on Middle Lake in Barry County, I was in.
Boedeker is one of those guys who prefers crappies to bluegills; he chose this lake, he said, because it not only had a good population of crappie, but it’s a lake where the crappies will bite well into the day, he said, noting that the crappie bite is often finished once the sun gets up.
So we went out to where some other guys had been fishing recently — you could tell by the iced-over holes — and he drilled a half dozen. Boedeker used his flasher to see if we had fish under us.
We did and started fishing, first with what he considered a relatively heavy jig (about the size of your average tear drop) with a relatively large plastic trailer (a Little Atom Nuggie). I’ll let him take it from there.
“If I’m going for crappies I want a heavier bait early in the morning,” he said. “I’m going for the aggressive fish: Heavy stuff, big plastic, work it fast. When crappies are aggressive you can’t use a bait that’s too big. You can tell right off the bait with the flashers if they’re charging after your bait. But if they’re not chasing it or you drop it down to them and it spooks them, then you’ve got to go — immediately — to smaller stuff.”
Boedeker dropped his bait down to about a foot above the marks on the flasher that indicated suspended fish He saw fish coming up on his depth finder, but they weren’t hitting.