Fishing Tips
Adventures in Ice Fishing

Ice fishing can provide some of the best eating fish of the year.  As the water is very cold the flesh on the fish is very firm and they won’t taste muddy this time of the year.  The taste of fish freshly caught from the ice is unparalleled.  This delicious delicacy is well worth the trip to the ice.

Ice fishing can bring great food, great fun but also great danger.  First of all, always be aware of the thickness of the ice.  I recommend not walking on any ice not at least four inches thick.   You can go out from shore a short bit, and measure the ice thickness with an auger.  When you’re on a lake the ice should be fairly consistent, but you will want to check it again as you move out; especially if there are no other fisherwomen on the ice or if you’re in an unfamiliar fishing area. 

River fishing is especially dangerous because of the moving currents underneath the ice and springs.  The thickness of ice can change rapidly from four inches to a half inch within a few feet and you may be faced with the unexpected danger of falling through the ice.  If you fall through you must have a way out.  Keep some very large spikes set in wooden handles around your neck, and drive these into the ice to pull yourself out.  Without them, getting out of the water is almost impossible.

Another consideration: when fishing on the Great Lakes be aware of the wind conditions.  Wind can cause the large segments of ice to break off and you can be stranded on an ice island and become stranded and unable to get off.  If you have strong winds get off of the ice immediately.

A good starting place with ice fishing is going after pan fish (crappies, bluegill, and perch).  For equipment you’ll need a sled, a box to sit on (or a plastic pale), an ice fishing pole with 4 lb. test, small ice-fishing spoons (silver, red, green) and bait (weed worms, wax worms), ice auger and/or ice chisel, ice sieve, a spring bobber, GPS (or compass) and gas lantern. 

The gas lantern will keep you warm and you will enable you to fish until dark.  The spring bobber is nothing more than a piece of thin spring wire attached to the pole with an eye on it (the line runs through the eye of the spring bobber and then the tip eye on the pole) As the fish pulls down on the line to take the bait – the bobber moves
down toward the pole and you lift up to set the hook.

For best fishing, you should always try and fish around the drop off of the weed beds, and time of day for ice fishing for pan fish is critical.  The best time is early morning (7-8 am) and the evening (4pm-to dusk).  Make your ice hole with an auger (hand-turning or gasoline powered) or chisel.  The hole should be 6 to 8 inches in diameter.  Lots of times you can look down the hole and see the fish but they won’t bit.  This is usually a waiting game.  If you’re patient, they will generally bit within the hour.  If you aren’t going to keep your catch put your fish down the hole immediately.  Once it gets dark you should come in off of the ice.  Be aware of your fish limit. 

Your family will thank you for your efforts.  They will never have eaten fish that is so fresh and tasty.  Enjoy your fish and enjoy the fantastic adventure of ice fishing!
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Photo:  Shannon Marshall.