Winter can be long and dreary. Being cooped up indoor while it’s cold and dark can dampen the best of spirits. If you are a lover of the outdoor, you can go crazy with cabin fever. Thankfully, fanatics of game fishing can still enjoy it while the lakes are frozen.
The rise of ice fishing
Very aptly, ice fishing is catching fishes through a hole made on the ice of a frozen lake. Fishermen use hooks, spears or even fish lines to catch fish.
The past years, ice fishing has become so popular that some ice shanties may even have technological advances like satellite TV’s and amenities of a mobile home. In some resorts in North America and Europe, ice fishing is offered as an attraction or activity holiday-goers can enjoy.
The art and skill of ice fishing
- Arrange for your ice shanty or dry suit or any manner of keeping yourself warm and dry;
- Prepare your gear (ice chisel, fish lures, rods, skimmer, portable chair) and fishing license;
- You may use a tip-up or a jigging rod that can alert you when a fish has bitten;
- When you find a fishing spot you like, drill a hole through the ice until you see the unfrozen water;
- Widen the mouth of your hole using an ice chisel;
- Use a skimmer to maintain the hole free from ice and slush which can build up through time and exposure to elements;
- Set your line and watch the flag on the tip-up. When it moves, then something has been caught.
Unfortunately, ice fishing can be a dangerous sport so take measures to be safe.
- The ice should at least be 4 inches thick;
- In large lakes, with miles of ice, be careful of varying thickness of ice and ice that break off due to offshore winds;
- Towards late winter, when there are already warm-ups, be careful of ice that may not support your weight;
- Have a fishing buddy with you and a charged cellphone with signal for emergency cases;
- Know how to fight off hypothermia. It takes only 20 minutes in icy water to die;
- Bring extra set of winter clothes in case you get wet.
Ice fishing tips
Here are some tips that can greatly help you and make your ice fishing experience an enjoyable and productive one.
- Depending on their species, fishes like to stay in specific depths of water. Do your homework before you set out to the cold;
- Fishes know that winter does not bring out a lot of people or activity so keep it quiet. No sudden movements as it will drive the fishes away;
- The cold weather will also make the fishes less likely to move. They would not be so aggressive in pursuing baits. You can use a slip bobber to set your depth to lure more fishes;
- If you are not fishing so deep, the shallow area may have too much light penetrating through the thin ice. It alerts the fish to stay away from it. You can cover the top with ice shavings;
- Stir up the mud and dirt on the bottom of the lake by bouncing off your bait. This will attract the fishes from nearby areas;
- Chumming your hole means putting some wax worms or salted emerald shiners in the area where you want to fish. It will attract more fishes.
Ice fishing is fun, relaxing, but can also be challenging because of the elements and the dangers. But to enjoy a big fish for dinner would be worth it.