For set lines, we rely on Frabill classic wood tip-ups, which feature hardwood bodies and robust metal components that stand the test of time and the elements. Since we will be fishing through dusk and into the first hour of darkness, each tip-up flag gets dressed with a Frabill Arctic Fire tip-up light, which makes bites easy to identify after dark, even from a distance. It’s important to respond immediately to a flying flag, as a nonchalant attitude will result in the fish retreating to the relative safety of the weeds. On the business end of the set line, include an 18” section of 10 lb Seaguar fluorocarbon leader dressed with a Trapper Tackle #2 livebait/finesse/dropshot hook. The unique Trapper Box, with its pair of right angle bends at the base of the hook, ensues that your shiner or sucker minnow remains in perfect position on the hook, rather than riding up and down the shank. More importantly, however, the Trapper Hook’s unique geometry dramatically enhances the the retention of hooked fish when compared to a traditional J-shaped hook, as fish flesh and bone remain locked within the Trapper Box.
Dabbling among the shallow weeds is a distinctly early-season pattern. Once the ice cap grows to about 12 inches in depth, or a thick blanket of heavy snow covers the shallow flats, this pattern falls apart. Under these conditions, the baitfish that shelter among the weeds, and the walleyes that are munching on them, will make tracks for the weed-studded breakline and the relative stability of deep water. If you want to experience the excitement of catching aggressive, shallow walleyes through the ice, the time is NOW. Get those batteries charged, pick out a few likely locations, and let’s get to work before we get stuck sharing deep weedline fish with everyone else!