ICE FISHING BASICS
First and foremost an ice fisherman needs the location of good lakes for ice fishing. Usually a lake that produces lots of fish in the summer fishing season will also produce numerous fish in the winter. Many factors in a lake in winter affect fish life. These factors change their reactions, their feeding habits, and even their survival rate. For instance, a heavy layer of snow over the ice will cut down on the amount of light that filters into the water. This will reduce weed growth and oxygen production. As a result, the fish become lethargic and interested in only conserving their energy to survive rather than wasting energy to feed and move around.
Lakes that are weed choked in the summer are usually shallow. Thus they contain very few deep pools or spots that contain oxygen rich pockets for fish to congregate. Therefore, they may not be able to sustain a large fish population in the winter months. Lakes that produce great numbers of fish in summer are likely to have fish congregate in these pools and use up the oxygen. Therefore, they will not all survive.
Fish die off in the winter does not mean severe oxygen depletion has occurred throughout the whole lake; certain areas will still produce good fishing results. Consider all factors when choosing a lake for ice fishing.
ICE FISHING SPOTS
For new folks fishing, the best spot to start is to go where the crowds or people are before you start to experiment. The ice fish crowd loves to socialize while fishing as it ads to the enjoyment. The willingness to share good fishing spots with others is an advantage to the newcomer to ice fishing. No one minds if a few more holes are cut and some more fish taken. Most other anglers will be more than willing to discuss their success and the bait or lures that have been most successful.
Most successful fishermen do not mind sharing their secrets and many old-timers derive great satisfaction helping a newcomer to ice fishing with the advantages of his years of experience. You will find some exceptions to this but do not be afraid to ask and let someone know you are new to winter fishing.
Finding the location of fish is frustrating at times. Remember fish in the winter act differently than in the summer months. The only requirement for a fish in winter is to eat enough to survive. They generally feed only part of the day to not waste a lot of their energy. The competition for food seems to be the key to fish feeding habits while fishing. Many ice fishermen do not consider all the noise of cutting holes setting up huts will affect the fish. After you settle down to fishing and stop all noise and movement, the fish will come back and be more active.
ICE FISHING EQUIPMENT
It is not all that expensive to get started fishing during the winter ( but you can get expensive if you wish). When you decide how much of your time will be spend fishing, then go from there.
For the weekend ice fishing angler, I would suggest a standard ice fishing rod, which can be purchased at any sporting goods store. The rod is seldom more than a fiberglass rod about two feet long with two line guides and a small take up reel. The line can be from 2 to 6 pound test mono-filament. Bobbers are a handy thing for ice fishing so keep a couple in your pack. You will also need a variety of lures, hooks, sinkers, swivels and other basic fishing tackle. Also have a chisel, ice spud or ice auger for your ice fishing holes. A handy Tackle Box and other Fishing Tackle Storage accessories are available. Check with your local bait store before you leave. There you may pick up any live bait needed for the species and lake you intend to fish.
If you want to use Ice Flashers for ice fishing, review the different types of equipment and pick what will meet your needs.
Don’t overdo it on your first ice fishing trip out onto the lake. Go out early in the morning and fish till noon, and call it a day. If the fish are biting, you should have caught your share by then. If the fish don’t bite, worry not as you will have learned to use the new equipment. The next trip out you will be even more equipped and ready for all the fish you will catch.
DRESSING FOR ICE FISHING
Dressing comfortably for winter fishing presents some problems that do not confront other outdoor winter activities. The chief concern is to stay warm at all times, but fishing by nature involves extremes of activity that will cause you to perspire if you are dressed too warmly, and then freeze when you sit too long. You may work up a sweat just getting there and setting up to start fishing. After sitting for a long time once fishing, then you are cold. The secret is to dress warmly for travel and have more to put on for the periods of inactivity. A good snowmobile outfit covers all the needs of most ice fishermen. Remember layers under the parka, you can always take it off if you are too warm. Get out there and enjoy, catch some fish and you will become an addict of fishing in all seasons.