Rain, Sleet, Ice, And Yellow Bass

Every fishing trip starts with at least one person wanting to catch a certain fish. Sometimes those trips happen sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they happen and still fail at catching that desired fish. Eric Kol made the comment to me that he wanted to ice fish for Yellow Bass on Clear Lake in Iowa. I had been there and caught a few yellows. I looked at Facebook pages of the Crazy Minnow and Clear Lake Bait & Tackle and I was hooked. Piles of yellows on the ice every day. I am not a meat hunter but those number we were sure to get at least a few and that is always a dangerous thought to have.



With sleet, rain, and freezing roads in the forecast I left my house with my truck full and a trailer with our ice transportation at 3:45 am after a couple hours of sleep. With a couple stops and taking our time, we arrived at the bait shop before sunup right at opening time. Licenses, spikes, and minnows in hand we headed out to the landing suggested by the bait shop. With the anticipation of finding the fish right away, we carefully loaded everything in the sled and off we went. 


Admittedly we could have walked the short distance but it cut out a lot of walking time. We stopped in a big flat and drilled some holes. Within minutes Eric caught the first fish that in his words was a walleye the size of a log perch. As time went by no fish were active and only a few were even seen on our flashers. There were about 30 holes drilled and no sign of catching anymore from that area. 


I started to pack up for a move. To where I was not sure. Passing by other fishermen we could see a fish here and there. Looking at the map there was nothing different about that spot. We drove on a bit and found a spot that just felt good. Same depth of 9 feet but more on the edge of the big bowl. The first hole I drilled of the 6 exploratory holes produced the first, second, third, and fourth fish for Eric. I was not finding fish in the other holes so another hole was drilled right next to the one producing. With fish sniffing my bait I was feeling a little snubbed by the yellows. With some work and figuring out the fish I was able to produce my first yellow of the trip. As Eric described they were a bugger of a bite. Up-bite of a crappie and light takes. 


With thumbs up I knew it may not be long.


Fish on!


Lifer Yellow for Eric!






I got to join in on the action too!



In the background, another fisherman pulls up a fish after Eric missed more bites than Eric could count.



We drilled some more holes and set up the shack to prepare for the upcoming rain. All set up in the shack with the producing holes no more fish were around. I decided to go find the fish. Like the shack I drilled two holes next to each other so if I found fish Eric and I could fish side by side. We found that very productive because we could use two different setups and get fish going and stay there. In the rain I found a couple holes that the fish were staying. Eric and I pulled up many fish in a short time. After about 6 hours of fishing we decided that we had a great time and head home. 

The ice was covering everything! We had to remove the ice just to leave. 



More and more people were showing up likely after work for them. As we were leaving some guys we stuck. I always carry two chains to put under the tires in case I get stuck. I taught them how to drive out without any pushing. It is much safer and easier and can be done alone. Many times those chains have been used for others and a must in every fisherman’s trunk.


We loaded up everything and headed home early.  The drive home was uneventful as we always want. I was so glad to be home since only an hour later there was chatter that all the roads were slick around my home. 

A successful and enjoyable day.


Our best setups were

-Noodle Style rod with light line 2-4 pound test

-Small white jigs tipped with 3+spikes

-Small silver spoons with 4+spikes

Jigging to draw them in and holding perfectly still seemed to work best for me. There were times when they hit hard but very few. That is why the noodle rods seemed to do well.


Noodle rod


The surprise was the purple hue to the under-side of the mouth.


The bass hit light and you needed to be able to see the bite. Many times they just grabbed the spike. They were found on the bottom in bout 9 feet of water. If you plan to head down there check out the two Bait Shops in town on FB and they will set you up on where to go. They make their living that way and treated us right.


-Set line with a minnow caught one fish of the 30+ caught

Species List:


andy's picture

Sounds pretty sweet, guys.  Nice writeup and excellent photos!  I will use those tips you provided when/if I make it down there some day.



Outdoors4life's picture

Andy I realized I did not edit eric's lifer pic so I updated that pic and added the one with the underside of the mouth. It has a purple hue. 
There is no limit to the yellow bass. You can keep as many as you like. They are so abundant it is crazy. 

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

D.T.'s picture

Man them look so different in the winter vs. summer. And them are some really good pictures too. I'd say that was a very sucsessfull mission. Congrats to you too Kol.

Phil's picture

Very nice OD4L- you have a knack for leading the charge and executing on those intriguing ice strike expeditions, reminds of another lifer adventure all those years ago.

Way to smack em around Mr. Kol, you guys showed those yellows who's the boss.  I see some full size trucks on the ice - how much ice did you have down there???

Eli's picture

That's awesome! I also love the noodle stick for shy-biters.


I wonder if a sabiki type rig with multiple baits in the water column would entice more bites.




Graceclaw's picture

Hey, Mr. Kolcinski finally humbled those snooty striped menaces! And on the ice too- that's wicked awesome!!!

Hengelaar's picture

Way to get after those Yellers.

Looks like a fun time, for sure.
Congrats on another lifer, Kol!

Fishn sure is neat

IsaacsFishingCorner's picture

That sounds like a blast, there are few fish I enjoy catching more than Yellow Bass. I'm always impressed by how you all can manage to catch fish through the ice (much less the fish you actually wanted to catch!). Congrats on the new lifer Eric!

Outdoors4life's picture

Phil, I enjoy finding new areas to fish. This one was easy wth all the local knowledge already out there and on forums. Probably only a few hours of prep was needed for this adventure. Kol and I have gone on some nutty fishing ventures together. Most we get our butts handed to us. After the last beatdown Iowa gave us two years ago we needed a better turnout. Last time a front came in just like this one only it was summer and it was a horrible trip. Good memory but two guys that get along like us were pissy at each other and a little short but hey it makes for a great story. The breaking part of that day was Kol hooking a fish and being pissy tells me to go unhook it since we were up on a bridge and much too large to lift. Waist deep in mud on 2 hours of sleep in stinging nettle on every part of my body I broke and started to laugh. The rest of the trip was back to our normal selfs. I am sure we wrote a report about it.

This entire trip was all Kol's fault! I actually wanted to part of going and catching friggin yellow bass but I knew we could get into some. It was a very rewarding trip that I enjoyed a ton. I encourage any of you to try it out. 

When I looked on here the best resource for fish info. This is what I found. 
A smaller version of the closely related white bass, the yellow bass is a spunky little scrapper that lives in the Mississippi River drainage basin. A popular panfish wherever it is found, these "Yeller Bellies" are an underappreciated jewel.

Yes, there were many full sized trucks out there even with plows. We only had 9-10 inches and with my new truck there is a strict no driving on the ice anymore.

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

FP4LifesDad's picture

Awesome guys congrats!  Thanks for sharing the report and photos.  Dumb question, Ive heard the term several times now, what is a spike?  Obviously bait of some sort but what is it a waxworm?  FP and I may try and head down there this Sunday looks like good weather as we both need yellows for our lifelists.

Outdoors4life's picture

Spikes are smaller than waxies and are often used for a more subtle bite.

Both are larva of insects.

If you guys go down talk to the bait shop and they will get you what you need. 

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

FP4LifesDad's picture

Gotcha, thanks man!  We'll definately stop in and do some business with the baitshop, just like FP says "We have to talk to the locals!"  Yep him and Jeremy Wade haha.

philaroman's picture

well, you know how ram balls are called lamb fries on menus, for marketing purposes...  as far as I know, spike is a nice way of saying maggot

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

FP4LifesDad's picture

Lmao, rocky mountain oysters comes to mind too.  Thanks for the help!

philaroman's picture

RMO is actually what I was trying to think of; drew a temporary blank; and went w/ the other, less colorful euphemism

now that I think of it, shoulda' gone w/  fried milt, just to keep it fishy  -- absolutely delicious; tastes like an extra firm, mild fried oyster...  and then you find out it's a semen-filled fish gonad, which makes it kinda hard to swallow surprise

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

Mike B's picture

Neat report man. Yellow bass are really cool and love the concept of bringing a side-by-side on to the ice for fishing. I can't believe there are pick-up trucks on the ice in Iowa. We haven't even opened our ice road yet up here in the Arctic.

mike b

Eric Kol's picture

we had a great time. riding out on the ice in Aaron's side by side was pretty great. Had I made the trip out alone I prolly would have ended up walking out.... in the sleet and freezing rain.
the bite was not quite what I expected after reading other reports of the lake, but it is possible it was because we were on the front end of a cold front. From many accounts the yellows through the ice are pretty agressive. 
The side by side fishng is great. two fishermen, two holes, one flasher. can easily fish two types of lures or baits so you can split the difference.
it is crazy just how many of these fish there must be. I know of other lakes in Iowa that have ended up poisoning out lakes that had yellow bass introduced and starting over because they took over. 
It was nice to kick off 2017 with a lifer. I made a quick stop by this lake in October and only fished for 15 minutes. It was cold and stormy and I did not give it much of an attempt.

Carpy Diem!

Dr Flathead's picture

Nice yellers there fellers.  Thats on my list of trips to do.  I want to whoop on them yellers thru the ice too sometime.

Cast_and_Blast's picture

Looks like fun.  I think the last time you were out there, you were catching Yellows from my boat.