There are so many fun activities to do during the winter. Sledding, making snowmen, and going for a sleigh ride are just a few fun activities to do. If you happen to live near a lake or other large body of water, you may be interested in ice fishing. Ice fishing is very popular and is a fun experience. If you have never ice fished before, you may be wondering where to begin. In this article, I'll go over everything you need to know about ice fishing, including ice fishing tips and how to ice fish. I hope today's article helps you understand more about ice fishing. Let's dive in!
What Is Ice Fishing?
Before we begin learning how to ice fish, let's first take a look at what ice fishing really is. Ice fishing is the practice of catching fish with lines and fish hooks or spears through an opening in the ice on a frozen body of water. Ice fishing is as basic as making a hole, setting up a line, and waiting for the fish to bite. Some people bring tents and huts along onto the lake to keep them busy as they wait for the fish to bite. Keep in mind that ice fishing is one of the most dangerous ways to fish. You must be careful when fishing on the ice. If the ice is too thin, you or your vehicle can fall in. Other risks include carbon monoxide poisoning from improperly used heaters and frostbite from exposure to the cold and wind.
Remember to Dress Warm
The first and most important tip is to dress warmly. When ice fishing, you should dress in layers. The layers will trap heat, as well as allow you to remove one piece at a time if you get warm. Make sure you wear waterproof boots that have enough room in them so you can wear layers of socks. Creepers, spiked shoes that help keep you upright on the ice, are also recommended.
How to Stay Safe When Ice Fishing
As I mentioned above, ice fishing can be very dangerous. Therefore, it is important that you follow these safety tips when ice fishing. Before you begin ice fishing, check the ice with an auger, measuring tape, or stick. The ice should be at least 3 to 6 inches thick to walk on, at least 7 inches thick to drive on with a car, and 10 inches thick to drive on with a truck. As you walk onto the ice, make test holes with an auger or spud at regular intervals. This will allow you to check to make sure the ice doesn't thin out. Avoid areas of cracked ice, and listen for loud booms or cracks, which could indicate that the ice is shifting dangerously. It is recommended to ice fish in a group so that if something happened, other people will be there to help. Bring along a rope, blankets, and a first-aid kit in case anyone falls in.
Ice Fishing Etiquette to Follow
Because ice fishing is so popular, there is a good chance that other fishermen will be out on the lake as well. In order for you and everyone else to have a successful day, you must follow some ice fishing rules.
- Be mindful of everyone's personal space. Don't drill a hole too close to another fisherman.
- Keep the noise level down. Even if you paid extra for satellite TV and a stereo system, your neighbors may not want to hear them.
- Keep your pets on a leash. Not only will some people not like pets running around them, but your pet may also fall in the water.
- Watch your children. Young children may accidentally fall into the water.
- Remember to mark your holes. Put a large branch or other markers in the holes you leave behind, so the next fisherman who passes by doesn't fall in.
- Clean up after yourself. If you notice other trash on the ice, be sure to clean it up.
Ice Fishing Supplies
There are many ice fishing supplies that you should bring along when you go ice fishing. Here is a list of ice fishing gear to pack with you.
- Ice fishing auger
- A sled
- Ice fishing rods
- Ice fishing shelter
- Fishing reels
- Ice fishing line
Other Ice Fishing Accessories
- Ice scoop
- Ice cleats
- A bucket
- A small propane heater
Do I Need Ice Fishing Electronics?
Nowadays, there are electronics that can help anglers (fishermen) find fish. They are called flashers. These little machines work by sending a cone-shaped sonar beam to the bottom of the lake, allowing anglers to watch the action unfold on a dial of colored lights. Once a flasher is set up, anglers can drop their jigs and watch them flutter down through the water column. When a fish approaches, it also shows up on the dial. Not only does this confirm that there are fish in the area, but anglers can also experiment with different jigging techniques to see which ones trigger a bite. There are many different models to choose from. Marcum, Vexilar, Garmin, and Humminbird are the most popular brands. The starting price for a basic flasher is about $300. While flashers aren't necessary, they can help you save time and find fish much quicker.
Ice Fishing Bait to Use
In order for you to catch fish, you will need the proper bait. There are many ice fishing bait options to choose from. Here is a list of bait to consider using:
- Wax worms
- Power bait
- Cut bait
- Salmon eggs
Where to Ice Fish
Once you have all your ice fishing equipment ready, you may be wondering where to ice fish. Ice fishing happens on still bodies of water like lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Check with your local tackle shop or read fishing reports to see what ice fishing destinations are available in your location. If possible, try to ice fish on lakes you are familiar with. This will give you the advantage of knowing what species are present and what they like to feed on.
Once you are on the ice, you want to maximize your chances of success. Starting in spots where you’ve caught fish before is the best option. For an even better chance of catching fish, use electronics like an ice fishing flasher. Remember to choose a location where the ice is thick enough to walk and drive on.
How to Make a Hole in the Ice
To make a hole in the ice, you’ll need an ice chisel, ice saw, or an auger (either hand or gasoline powered). Use any of these tools to dig down through the ice until you reach open water. The hole should be no larger than 10 inches, as people could fall in holes any bigger than that. Make sure it is no smaller than eight inches because you need it big enough for you to pull the fish through. Once you have your hole made, use a skimmer to remove any remaining chunks of ice in the hole. Remember that when you leave the hole, make sure to mark it with a tree branch, ice pile, or some other clearly visible object. This will prevent other people from falling into the hole.
How to Ice Fish
To begin, check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources for more information on ice fishing, rules, regulations, and licensing requirements. Never go fishing without a license. Next, select your fishing method. There are four ways to ice fish. You can light-rod fish, tip-up fish, spear-fish, or try clubbing. The most popular methods are light-rod fishing and tip-up fishing. Remember when fishing that fish don’t expend as much energy during the winter months, meaning they are both slow to move and slow to react. If you move your bait or jig too fast, a fish might release the bait or hook in order to save energy. A lot of patience is required when ice fishing, as it is more difficult to catch fish in the cold.
Tips for Catching Fish
Now that you know the basics of ice fishing, you may be wondering if there are any ice fishing tips. The answer is yes. There are many ice fishing tips that will help you have a successful day. Here are the top ice fishing tips to follow.
- The depth of the water matters. Fish generally will stay a specific depth during the winter, making it easy to find them. Do some simple internet research to find out what depth the species of fish you’re trying to catch stay around during the winter months.
- Both bluegills and perch love to feed off the bottom during the winter months. Try bouncing your bait off the bottom to stir up some mud and debris. This can attract fish from a distance.
- If you’re ice fishing in a shallow area then it’s best to keep some ice shavings in the hole to prevent light from penetrating the surface. This keeps the fish from avoiding the area where you’re fishing. However, if you’re trying to catch crappie then the light can actually attract small plankton, which will attract crappie.
- Safety is always first. Bring a cell phone so that if you or another angler falls into the water, you can quickly call for help. Bring along plenty of blankets, a first aid kit, and a rope. After falling in the icy water, people can quickly become ill and die from hypothermia. Always be prepared for an emergency.
During the winter months, there are so many fun activities to do. One fun activity that you and your family may be interested in is ice fishing. Ice fishing is fairly easy to do. That said, ice fishing is considered the most dangerous fishing method, so always be careful when ice fishing. Bring along a friend when ice fishing so that if you happened to fall into the water, he or she could help. I hope today's article has answered all your questions. Have fun!