Lets face it, winter can be extremely boring and a little depressing if you do not find fun activities to fill your time.
Ice fishing is a wonderful and inexpensive way to spend your free time during the winter months.
A basic ice fishing setup should not cost a lot, however, if you find that you like it, there are some ways that you can invest your money to create a more comfortable fishing experience.
When you are first starting out ice fishing, there are some basic tips that you should follow to ensure a pleasurable experience.
From ice safety to adjusting your fishing techniques on the fly, here are some tips to consider before taking your first fishing trip on the ice.
1. Be Safe on the Ice
The first and most important tip to follow is to use basic common sense when it comes to ice fishing safety.
If you are unsure of the thickness of the ice on a particular body of water, be sure to investigate before walking out onto the ice.
You can investigate by looking for signs of other fishermen, stopping in at a local bait shop or gas station, or checking the local newspaper for ice condition reports.
If you see other fishermen, ask them about the ice conditions and if they know of any dangerous areas. Same thing at the local bait shop.
Bait shop employees talk to fishermen everyday and fish themselves so they will have a lot of knowledge about ice conditions.
Local papers in ice fishing hotspots should also have information on ice thickness, weather reports, and other important information to ensure you have an enjoyable ice fishing trip.
Safety not only applies to being aware of ice thickness and conditions but also applies to dressing appropriately for weather conditions. This takes us to our number two ice fishing tip.
2. Invest in Proper Outdoor Gear to Account for Weather
The proper outdoor gear to stay warm is not only a safety tip, it’s something you should do to make sure you have a great experience.
Nothing is worse than sitting on the ice and freezing yourself half to death.
Invest in snowmobile style overalls, fur or wool hats, choppers or mits, and dress in several layers. You can add and remove layers throughout the day as needed.
A good pair of long-underwear is a great base layer. From there, some loose-fitting pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a flannel button-up should layer well under a jacket and a pair of overalls.
Another way to beat the cold is to invest in a fishing shack.
A fishing shack will protect you from the outdoor elements and allow you to peel off some of your layers for a more comfortable fishing experience.
You can even invest in a small gas heater to keep you extra toasty all day and night out on the ice.
3. Ice Fish with a Friend
Ice fishing can be fun alone, but it is even better with a friend. Having someone to talk to while ice fishing is a great way to ensure a fun ice fishing experience.
Ice fishing is not just about catching fish, it is about fun. Listen to the radio, pack some good snacks and even a few beverages, and enjoy being outdoors and away from the complications of work and home life.
Sometimes we may not have a friend to ice fish with or we prefer to fish alone. That is fine and dandy but follow these common-sense safety tips for fishing alone.
- Always tell someone where you will be fishing.
- Tell that same person how long you expect to be on the ice.
- Check-in with that person once you have left the ice and are on your way home, or already at home.
- Dress appropriately and be aware of the early warning signs of hypothermia.
- Never walk on thin ice or any ice that even gives the slightest hint that it may be dangerous.
- Pack a backpack with extra supplies. For example, pack some non-perishable food items, bandages and first aid kit, a flashlight with batteries, a whistle or a blow-horn, and any medications you may be currently taking.
- And if you want to learn from the professionals then check out this ice fishing guide package at Bakers Narrow Lodge
4. Use Both Live Bait and Plastic Lures
Fish can grow tired of live bait. When that happens, switch out the live bait and jigs for some plastic lures that you can purchase at the local bait shop.
Be sure to ask the locals working at the bait shop what colors are currently hitting well on the lake.
Here is a quick list of the best ice fishing live baits.
- Wax worms
And for When the Live Bait Ain’t Working …
Try some of these famous ice fishing plastic lures.
- Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnow.
- Berkley PowerBait Power Honey Worm.
- Gitzit Tubes.
- PowerBait FW Power Grubs.
- PowerBait FW Rib Worm.
- Storm WildEye Swim Shad.
- Zoom Bait Salty Super Fluke
5. Jig On The Lake Bottom
Jiggin on the lake bottom with a night crawler or leech is a great way to catch some monster fish.
Several species of fish, including walleye and perch, typically feed within 3-4 inches of the lake bottom. Simply let your line go until you feel it stop, close the bail, and begin jigging.
You should feel the weight of your jig hitting the lake bottom and you should see your line going tight and loose again as you move it up and down.
6.Try Twisting the Line
If jigging doesn’t seem to be getting any bites, switch it up a bit by twisting your line. Simply grab your fishing line and place it between your index finger and thumb.
Next, begin to roll the fishing line between your two fingers. This will cause your bait to spin in the water and will give fish some different action to look at that might entice them to bite.
7. Use a Fishfinder
Using a fishfinder, also known as an ice fishing flasher, is an excellent way to find underwater structure, know the depths you are in, and to monitor fish traffic.
There are so many fish finders on the market today and they all have their different sets of bells and whistles. You can find out more about ice fishing flashers by clicking here.
8. Cover the Hole
When you are ice fishing, especially in shallower water, the creation of an ice fishing hole lets in additional sunlight that fish may notice.
It is a great idea to cover the hole with ice shavings in order to block out the additional light to not spook off the fish.
All species of fish are susceptible to light conditions, and any abrupt changes to the lighting conditions may cause fish to be on edge.
9. Change Jig Sizes
If you are not getting any action after a long period of time, you may want to switch your tackle. Most people will tend to switch jig colors but try switching jig size from time to time.
A change of jig size might be more attractive to the fish around you and a bigger jig may open you up to some larger predator fish lingering nearby.
Be sure to not be impatient though and switch your tackle or bait every ten minutes. Try something out for at least an hour or more before deciding to change.
10. Try Chumming
Chumming may be seen as some as a tactic only used in ocean fishing. That is not entirely true. Chumming can be an effective method for attracting fish even in fresh water scenarios.
Simply take some minnows, wax worms, or whatever form of live bait you are using and grind them up into a paste-like substance.
Then sprinkle the paste into the fishing hole letting it sink into the water.
Chumming creates an area with strong odors that not only can attract fish, but it can induce their animal instincts to feed more aggressively.
Canada is world-famous for the quality of their freshwater fishing year round. If you are looking for an exciting ice fishing experience unlike any other, then taking a trip to Manitoba’s Lake Athapapuskow is a must.
Lake Athapapuskow provides some of the best ice fishing available in all of North America. Fish for Walleyes, Northern Pike, and for their famous and monstrous Lake Trout.
A quick search about the lake will give you loads of information on where to find lodging and even how to book guided fishing expeditions.
Sometimes it is better to hire a local who can guide you to the best fishing available on a particular day.
It is their job to talk with other locals, to monitor fish movement, and to know what types of bait and lures are the best choice for which species during a particular time of the fishing season.
Also, finding a guide with a great shore-lunch recipe is highly recommended. Happy fishing!