First ice is usually the most productive time to ice fish for walleye. Action can be fast by jigging Swedish Pimples without bait. React quickly by setting the hook to any tap, strike or line hesitation. As winter progresses, walleye feeding habits change. The action is usually in the morning or late afternoon. Attach a 2 to 3 inch minnow to the Swedish Pimple. A slower lift – fall presentation with a pause will produce good walleye.
All fish bite better and strike harder with first ice. Often the action is so fast no bait is used on the Swedish Pimple. In this case, set the hook hard on any strike as you jig the Pimple. But as the winter progresses the water gets cold, the fish become more sluggish and feed gingerly.
Now use bait on the Swedish Pimple (i.e., a 2 ½ inch or so minnow hooked through the back on a single hook, or a 1 inch minnow on each barb on a treble hook). At a touch, wait! Let the walleye take it. Hold it! When the line begins to move off at about a 30 angle under the ice set the hook and bring it in. More walleyes are lost in winter by striking too soon than too late.
Anyone can soon learn to tell a walleye touch from a pan fish nibble so play them with care. The hooks are always set in deeper and more solid if you strike, as the fish is moving away from you. However, on any hard strikes, set the hook at once. Remember, when the fish hit hard, you hit hard, when they play with the lure, you play with them.