Let’s Go Ice Fishing
During the winter you don’t have to hibernate. Join the growing sport of ice fishing where you can experience the thrill of the catch and enjoy the great outdoors during winter. It’s just having fun, waiting for a fish to bite and you get to catch one and it’s so exciting. Well she just gave me the rod and then, it started to move, it pulled, and then we reeled it up and we caught a fish. Out on the ice you will meet entire families, groups of friends who have fished together for years, and even some strange but harmless ice fishing enthusiasts. Gee that sounds like fun! This video will introduce you to ice fishing; a fun and unique cold weather sport. A great place to start is your state’s fishing guide. It contains ice fishing regulations, license fees, and a list of lakes and ponds where you can fish. It may even contain information on fishing classes or events you can attend. Let’s get started learning about ice fishing! Wait a minute. It’s cold out here. How do people stay warm? It feels cold out here today, but you guys look like you’re ready. You’ve got all your layers and everything. Oh yeah, we got to dress in layers. Right here we’re out in 20 degree weather. We’re smiling; we’re having a great time! You dress warm for it, you dress in layers. And I’m not cold one bit. You look like you’re a little chilly though. I’m a little chilly. Winter weather can change rapidly. It’s always better to have more clothes than you think you might need. You may find yourself drilling holes during a calm sunrise then braving a snow squall hours later. An icy start to the day may yield 40 degree temperatures in the afternoon. In order to become an ice angler you must be an adventurous type of person. All right, I’m sold. Where can I go ice fishing? Check with your local bait and tackle store to find out where fishing’s been good. You can access lakes and ponds at public boat launches and parks. Try areas where people are already fishing. Talk to other anglers and ask questions; ice fishing is a very social sport! If you know the lake, fish the same areas you did before the water froze. Hey, what about ice safety? As a general rule, fish near others who are already set up on safe ice. Drill a hole close to the shore to check ice thickness. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one person on foot. Move out from shore, checking ice as you go. Ice thickness can vary even on the same body of water. Buy or make ice picks to wear around your neck. These picks will help you pull yourself out of the water if you break through the ice. You should also bring a rope or floating seat cushion that you can toss it to someone in trouble. Don’t go alone; invite a friend. Be sure to tell someone when you go ice fishing. Let them know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. What else will you need? Ice is slippery and can be kind of tricky to walk on. You can use creepers that strap to the bottom of your boots. They help you walk around without slipping. You are going to have to get your equipment out onto the ice. Many anglers use 5 gallon plastic buckets or a pack basket. Others pull their equipment out on a sled or plastic toboggan. And then there are people who feel they need to bring the whole tackle store out with them. Be aware that sound travels easily over ice, so be courteous to lake residents and other anglers by keeping noise at a reasonable level and please — take all trash off the ice when you leave. You might see some ice anglers fabricating wind breaks and other shelters out on the ice. Some are quite extravagant and take lots of imagination and effort to build. Um, excuse me. How do you make holes in the ice? There are three tools used to make holes. An ice chisel or spud is inexpensive but demands a lot of effort to chip out a hole when the ice is thick. Hand augers are faster but the blades must be kept very sharp. A power auger is the fastest but they may cost much more. Be careful when using these ice cutting tools. Always use the safety guards when the tool is not being used. Once you get a hole in the ice, you have to remove the slush. Use a skimmer or ice scoop. Yo, now that we have a hole, how do you fish? In order to attract fish, you’ll need bait. A variety of bait can purchased at your local bait and tackle store. Once you have your bait one way to ice fish is with a jigging rod. Small lures are tipped with bait, lowered into the hole, and jiggled up and down to attract fish. Live insect larvae are most commonly used. There are also artificial, scented baits that look like small grubs sold in jars. A spring bobber added to the tip of your jigging rod will indicate even the slightest bite. As you can see this method can be very productive. Another way to fish is with a tip-up. There are lots of different styles of tip-ups. Live minnows, called shiners, are standard bait for tip-ups. Once a fish grabs the bait and swims away, the flag goes up and the excitement begins. ANGLER (OFF CAMERA):Tip-up! Do you have any other tips? Please don’t release bait when you’re done fishing. This is one way invasive fish species get into lakes and do great damage to fish populations. Learning about how fish live under the ice is important. You will have a big advantage if you understand their behavior and start thinking like a fish. While frogs and turtles burrow into the mud during the winter, most fish actively feed all winter long. Sunfish provide lots of bites in some lakes and ponds. Yellow perch and walleye are prized for their firm white flesh and great taste. Chain pickerel and northern pike are two top predators that dominate ice fishing in many lakes and ponds. There are some days when few fish are pulled through the ice. This may be a great time to take advantage of other winter sports. Skating and sledding are a couple things you can do to stay active and keep that warm blood circulating. Building a fire on shore or on the ice where permitted will provide warmth and maybe even a place to roast some hotdogs. Food cooked out on the ice tastes so much better. There are other days when the catching is non-stop. When this happens you will lose count of the number of fish you catch. Selective harvest is a strategy for boosting the quality of fishing in a lake or pond. This means you should keep only a reasonable number of small or medium-sized fish while releasing large or trophy-size fish. Take photos to remember the big ones you let go. Regardless of what you catch or release, know and follow all regulations for the body of water you are fishing. These regulations can be found in your state’s fishing guide. Enjoy the sport, make some friends out on the ice, and always keep safety in mind. For additional information about ice fishing and fishing in general, visit your State’s fisheries website.