As the winter months come and your favorite fishing hole freezes over, there is no need to despair. In fact, winter is the perfect opportunity to take on the experience of ice fishing. You will need to learn a few new fishing techniques for ice fishing and prepare a bit differently than you normally would, but you will be surprised on how exciting winter angling can be. Let these ice fishing tips be the basis of your experience.
Ice Fishing Tips: Safety
Ice fishing, like any other type of fishing, can be dangerous if you don’t take the proper safety precautions. It is always recommended that you ice fish in pairs, but this ice fishing tip is particularly important for beginner ice fisherman. No article or video can be as valuable as having an experienced ice fisherman with you. If you do not have an experienced ice fishing buddy, you may want to consider starting out at a pay to fish location where there are other ice fisherman and an attendant who monitors the depth of the ice and its integrity.
This brings us to the next important safety factor: Ice Thickness. Six inches of solid ice is recognized as a safe thickness for ice fishing. Without any structural flaws, six inches of ice is able to support about 1,000 pounds of weight, which should be beyond sufficient in most cases. If you are unsure of the depth of ice at a local lake, ask fisherman who have already been out on the lake or contact your local DNR office. Of all of the ice fishing tips remember: If you are unsure of how thick the ice is, don’t risk it!
Hopefully the circumstances where you will need a flotation device will not arise; however, it is always better to be prepared. A lifejacket is the best route and in some states it is required that ice fisherman wear them. One of the more practical ice fishing tips is to bring along a flotation cushion. Not only can it save a life, but it turns just about any surface into a suitable seat.
Other important safety equipment to take ice fishing is rope, ice cleats and hand spikes
Ice Fishing Tips: Gear
Of the ice fishing tips, the best that I can give a beginner (aside from be safe, of course) is to pack what you need, but pack light. The equipment you need for ice fishing is pretty basic. A hand auger is a must, because you are going to need to get through at least six inches of ice. A gas powered auger would do the job quicker, but personally saving $300 is worth the time and effort until you get really hooked on ice fishing. To keep your newly dug hole clear, an inexpensive shush dipper will do the trick. A five gallon bucket with a lid will work as a means to store your live bait and will serve as a seat (it is not too bad of you add that flotation cushion on top).
Now for the actual tackle you should bring with you and ideally have setup before you are on the lake. I recommend two jigging rods per person. The rig that you decide to go with should be based on the type of fish you are ice fishing for. For panfish, a simple drop shot rig with a small hook or small jig is effective baited with worm or night crawler. For the larger bass and northerns, a standard jig baited with a minnow works well.
I hope these Ice fishing tips will get you started on the ice and continuing to fish in the winter months!
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Author: Brian Ward
Nov 5, 2013