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  • Writer's pictureBrian Lansing

on the ice

a beautiful Oneida Lake walleye caught ice fishing
ice fishing for Oneida Lake walleye

We’ve been fortunate the last week or so to have good conditions to be ice fishing on Oneida Lake. With ice thickness averaging 10”-12” with spots of up to 15” or 16”, the ice late last week and this weekend was the best it’s been all year. The ice fishing for perch and walleye on Oneida Lake was very good at times and slow at times, reminding us why it’s called “fishing” and not “catching”. Overall, it’s been pretty good.

Oneida Lake ice fishing for perch and walleye during the evening bite
Oneida Lake walleye and perch caught ice fishing the short evening bite

A short, but good, evening walleye bite continued through late last week. On Thursday, I had a great group of guys from Pennsylvania join me for a day of ice fishing. Windy and very cold conditions coupled with finicky and aggravating fish that seemed more interested in chasing bait around rather than eating made for a tough day. The group fished hard, stuck it out, learned the nuances of winter jigging for fish that are not cooperating, and were able to take home a couple of nice walleyes and 7 or 8 perch. A few small fish were released as well as a dandy of a smallmouth bass. The smallmouth bass fight was a very fun battle to watch. If any of the guys are reading this, it was a pleasure meeting you all and thanks again for coming up and fishing hard.

a very nice smallmouth bass caught ice fishing on Oneida Lake
a very nice smallmouth bass caught ice fishing on Oneida Lake
a great walleye caught ice fishing on Oneida Lake
walleye caught ice fishing on Oneida Lake

The weekend was BUSY on the lake. Sunny skies and 40+ degrees with solid ice makes for great days on the ice. It was easily the busiest weekend of the year in terms of angling pressure and traffic on the ice. We went deep and avoided some of the highly pressured and trafficked areas. Working hard and jigging for 8 hours straight, we filled a 5-gallon bucket of nice perch. The walleyes eluded us with the exception of a couple of short fish. Judging by the behavior of some of the fish marks and follows on the sonar, we were on some walleye, but just could not get them to commit. Again, there were times when it was very good, but there were also extended periods of time without bites. It wasn’t on fire by any means, but successful. It’s important to be ready to take advantage when active fish come through.

Walleye and perch fishing through the ice is about adapting. With such an abundance of food in the lake, their diets are constantly changing. When something is working, fish it hard. When it stops working or you stop getting the reactions you want, change things up quickly and don’t stop until you dial it in. Change color, size, presentation, style, and depth. Sometimes, they like to chase and eat while the jig is moving. Sometimes, the fish like to eat when the jig is still. Other times, they eat your jig as it falls or drops. Sometimes, they just want a live minnow. Sometimes, they just stare at your bait and annoy you to no end. Sometimes, you just need to drink a hot cup of coffee and wait them out. That’s fishing.

Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel free to email me with any questions or comments. If you venture out this week, please be careful and use a spud. With sun, warm temps and some rain mid-week, the pressure cracks will be wet and the shoreline could get a little soft. Luckily, it’s looking quite cold for the end of the week and next weekend.

16" Oneida Lake walleye
16" Oneida Lake walleye


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