Year round bass fishing is becoming more popular every year. Ice anglers realize they no longer need to quit their sport over the winter.
Heading out onto the ice can deliver some great fishing experiences, but there are some very subtle differences that make it a challenge.
Your fishing essentials list will be very different from your regular fishing tackle list, and you will need to learn some ice fishing techniques.
This quick beginner’s guide to fishing comprises the top five fishing tips and techniques you need to know.
1. Basics of Ice Fishing
The concept of ice fishing is straightforward. You head out onto the ice, cut a hole and drop lures or bait through the hole to the hungry fish in the water below.
While you may think, it takes a lot of specialist gear to start fishing on frozen lakes.
The reality is all you need is an ice auger, an ice scoop to clear away the ice. Something to carry your gear like a sled, fishing rods and a selection of jigs. For the most, you can start to ice fish for a relatively small investment.
Aside from simple fishing gear, you do need a great pair of boots and gloves to keep your hands and feet dry.
If you are new to this kind of fishing, you may not have a fishing shanty, so you need to add many layers to keep warm during the winter months.
When it comes to ice thickness, you need a good four inches to be sure it won’t crack under your weight.
For shanties, heavy sleds and your fishing partner (buddy system) you may need up to twelve inches of good ice.
2. Essential Ice Fishing Gear
You can spend a small fortune on fishing gear because it can be rather unique. However, there is no reason you need to go overboard.
Here are to commonly used bits of equipment that can make your fishing more enjoyable and successful.
This can take a little investment, but without it, there is no way you can cut a hole in the ice.
You can purchase hand augers, but power augers make light work of drilling through the ice. This means you can drill many more holes without wasting too much time.
Ice Fishing Sled
An ice-fishing sled can make carrying your gear much easier as you cross the ice. You can use any suitable sled or you can purchase ones specific for ice fishing.
Ice Fishing Shelters
These are optional and are for more serious ice anglers. These are great if you are taking kids on trips to ice fish.
Electronic fish finders can be useful to locate fish, although some angler will be against this as it takes away a little of the sporting aspect.
3. Ice Fishing Lines, Rods and Reels
You can use any rod in theory; however, ice fishing rods are much shorter in length. At around 24 inches in length, it means you can jig easier as well as allowing you to get closer to the hole.
It can be hard to detect bites, so these ice rods are very sensitive around the rod tip.
You can use a basic spinning reel or straight-line reel. These are the more common and are very affordable.
If you look at rod and reel combos, these can come in for a few dollars more, so you can save money buying a set.
Fishing lines come in various forms, however, the majority of anglers opt for fluorocarbon fishing lines because they are almost impossible to detect when under water.
If you fish for larger types of fish, you will need braided line and make use of a fluorocarbon leader.
Pro tip: You can store gear in 5-gallon buckets. These are a good idea because they fit on sleds easy, and you can use them to sit on rather than carrying an extra chair.
Rod holders are essential to keep your rod and reel off the ice. You will need to check with the state because many allow multiple rod use. They will also prevent your rod being dragged into the hole.
4. Ice Fishing Lures, Baits and Jigs
All lures used are meant to be jigged in one way or another. These jigs come in all shapes and sizes as well as colors.
Simple jigs are a hook that is connected to small jig head. Ice spoons are larger and come with fish shaped bodies. Some Hali jigs are made with a chainlike section that hangs, and is tipped with bait to attract fish.
Worms are one of the best ice fishing bait you can use. One of the best fishing tips is to set the hook with your worm, and use a slip sinker.
You can also use a marshmallow to help the worm float a few inches off the bottom of the lake.
When fishing for bass, you can use a tiny jig with a small piece of worm. They hug the bottom in these conditions and have a much lower appetite.
In some areas, the use of live bait maybe prohibited, so check before you head off onto the ice. Dead minnows are a great alternative and can be bought from any good fishing store.
5. Fishing Techniques
Once you have your ice fishing setup, you can then start fishing. You can find you may catch a few and then the action drops off. If the fish stop biting, you can try the following.
Swapping from vertical to horizontal jigs. Fish can tire of jigs that hang vertically, you can change this to one which sits horizontal.
When jigging, fish can also tire when you jig up and down. They become used to the action, and to them it loses the appearance of something, which is alive.
You can take your line between your fingers and twist it. This makes your jig begin to spin as it stays at the same depth.
Fish can get tired of live food. Baiting to plastic can be just the change you need to grab the fish’s attention.
Chumming can be a good way of bringing more fish around your hole. Take some of your bait, be it wax worms, minnows or spikes and crush them up.
You can drop this into the hole. This can attract a larger stream of fish, but just be careful not to overfeed.