It’s hard to imagine ice fishing without any electronics, but I remember years of hard-water angling ice simply staring at that bobber waiting for it to move. I jigged and jigged, and I hopped from hole to hole seeking active fish. Now with electronics we have a better idea of what’s happening below the ice. We can see if there are fish below us, and we make adjustments on lure sizes, colors, and types of bait to turn those marks on your locator into fish on the end of your line. Without sonar, we were changing lures without knowing if fish were nearby.
Sonar units can open our eyes to what is happening below the ice, but I see some crucial mistakes. One of the biggest is anglers not marking fish, so they cease or dial back their jigging. They’ll put their rods in a rod holder and wait until they mark a fish, then pick up the rod and resume jigging. This sudden movement can trigger a bite, but this sudden movement also can scare approaching fish. If a fish approaches your still lure, don’t do anything too aggressive. Maybe grab the rod and slowly raise the lure with a gentle twitch. See how the fish reacts.
I believe the most important time for you to be actively jigging is when you’re not marking fish. Raise your lure higher in the water column and aggressively jig to attract fish from farther away. If you are set up in a shelter and don’t plan on moving, then you have to bring the fish to you. By keeping your lure active you are more likely to make contact with more fish that could be traveling past. You can check out another blog I wrote about calling fish to you.(http://www.outdoornews.com/2017/01/11/ice-fishing-tip-catch-walleyes-ringing-dinner-bell-call-baits/)
If set up, I’ll always have a second line down with a live minnow. Often times the lure flash and vibration will call in the fish, but the fish may favor a live minnow over a bouncing lure. Sometimes the live minnow will catch more fish than your jigging rod, but I urge you not to switch both to live minnow rigs. This may lead to fewer or maybe no fish at all.
Catch the fish’s attention with the jigging rod and let the fish show you what it prefers.
Good luck fishing and stay safe!