A frozen body of water, such as a pond or a lake can still be useful and be a great source of fish. Just by drilling a hole on the surface, combined with fishing reels and great skills, you can have a nice ice fishing experience rewarded with an abundant catch.
Ice fishing can be enjoyable, but, it is also considered as one of the most dangerous methods of fishing. After all, you have to sit out on the open ice to be able to fish. That is why, it is important to follow some safety steps to ensure that nothing unfortunate will happen.
Choosing the fishing location is very crucial. The recommended depth of ice that can be considered safe for walking is at least four inches thick. Some also consider at least two and a half inches, but that would be too risky. There are chances that the ice might break due to offshore winds so it is always best to be on the safe side.
If you are fishing alone, make sure that somebody knows where you are going. You should also have a charged mobile phone in case of an emergency.
You also need to be equipped with the proper equipment and fishing tackle before you go ice fishing. Below are some of the basic but important equipment that you should have. Depending on the level of your expertise, you can add more equipment as the need arises. Of course, do not forget that aside from these equipment, you also need to have a valid fishing license.
- Proper winter clothing to keep you warm and protect you from the harsh weather
- Extra winter clothes in case you get wet
- Warm and durable boots with ice cleats
- Ice fishing rods
- Ice fishing reels
- Ice fishing line
- Ice fishing tackle
- Augers for drilling holes on the ice surface
- Ice safety pick and life vest, which can save you in case of an emergency
- Bucket with lid, which can double as a seat and container for your catch
Once you have all the equipment that you need and you are all geared up for ice fishing, you should also remember these tips and techniques to make your fishing session a great one.
- The depth level of the location matters. During the winter season, most of the fish generally stay a specific depth so it will be quite easy for you to find them. However, it also depends on the species of the fish because different species stay in different different depths.
What you can do is, before you head out to the spot, do some simple online research to know the what depth the fish species you are trying to catch stays on. Determine the fish species that you want to catch or the species that are known to be abundant in the area so that your fishing will result to an abundant catch and a successful experience. At least once you get to the fishing spot, you are equipped not just with gears, but also with knowledge and significant information.
- Go slow and steady so that you can win with a great catch. Since, obviously, the winter season is extremely cold, the fish do not move as move as briskly as they do in normal conditions. That is because they do not spend a lot of energy as they are trying to save it. So, you also have to act in a slow manner to be successful. If you move your bait too fast or pull the rod too quickly, the fish that you caught might just let go of the bait in order to save energy.
- Use a slip bobber to set the hook at the right time. This is another important technique which can help you catch more fish because it will allow you to see when a fish might actually be on your hook. During the winter, fish are not just slow, they are also less aggressive so they would not even put much of a fight and will not attack your bait in an effort to feed.
- Cover the hole, especially when you are fishing in a shallow area. You can use ice shavings to cover the hole and prevent light from passing through the surface. You need to do this so that the fish will not avoid your fishing spot. However, if you are trying to catch a crappie, then leaving the hole open may be a better option because the light can attract small planktons which can also attract the crappie.
- Go real deep and bait the bottom. This is especially helpful if you are trying to catch bluegills and perch because they love to feed off the bottom during winter. You can try bouncing your bait off the bottom to stir up some mud and debris as it can attract the fish into your fishing spot. That can increase the chance of you catching more fish.
- Chum the hole to attract more fish to your spot. The more fish there are in your area increases your chance of catching more. You can grind up some minnows and drop some wax worms into the hole and create a feeding frenzy. The food and the sight of other fish feeding will definitely attract the others to your spot, and again, increasing your chance of catching more fish.
Make sure that before you go on an ice fishing trip, you are prepared with the knowledge and the finer details of ice fishing so that you can have an enjoyable and successful trip. Aside from the fishing gears and the technical know how, you also need to ensure your safety as well as that of your companion, if you have any.
Educate yourself and be prepared with what could happen while ice fishing. Hypothermia is one of the leading causes of death related to ice fishing so it can help if you know what to do in case you fall into the icy water. Learn how to treat hypothermia and save a life. Make sure that you have a charged mobile phone so you can call for help immediately.