At a Glance: Ice Fishing
Even though the lake has frozen over, there is plenty of action under the ice, and hard water warriors love it! It takes dedication and heart to brave the severe weather conditions for that fresh winter harvest. A successful ice fishing session begins with safety. Check your local bait shop or news outlets to ensure the ice is thick enough to fish safely. Some safety equipment to add to your ice fishing gear includes cleats for your boots, a life preserver, and handspikes. Proper layering is essential to stay warm and comfortable while you’re fishing. FishUSA offers an array of outerwear, including bibs, jackets, hats, gloves, and balaclavas. Things to keep in mind when purchasing outerwear for ice fishing include a base layer to wick away perspiration, an insulating layer that holds warmth without absorbing water, and a shell layer to prevent water or wind from penetrating the insulation.
Now that you’re ready to hit the ice, ice augers are a necessity so you can quickly drill holes through the thick ice. There are a variety of augers that range from hand crank to electric or gas powered to drill powered. Hand augers are a great option because they are lighter and generally lower in price. If it is early in the season or you’re an occasional ice fisherman, a hand auger is a good choice for you. Power augers feature a power source such as gas and oil, propane, or electric batteries. They are popular because they are efficient and cut holes quickly. The new kid on the block is an auger that attaches to your cordless power drill, eliminating the need for heavy power augers and carrying extra gas. The most common sizes for ice auger blades are eight and ten inches in diameter, perfectly sized for pulling out monster crappie or walleye. To make ice fishing more comfortable, seasoned ice anglers often set up ice fishing shelters, also lovingly known as ice shanties. FishUSA currently offers portable ice shelters, enabling you to fish any frozen lake of your choosing! Ice shelters are constructed with durable fabric to block winter weather and can sometimes be insulated. Another perk of a portable shelter includes quick set-up and tear down, a carrying bag for easy transportation, and the ability to hop from one hot spot to another. When purchasing an ice shelter for your next fishing expedition, take into consideration the amount of fishable area you desire, how many of your buddies can fit in it, plus space for all your gear.
Ice fishing rods are shorter, lightweight, and often have brightly colored tips or spring bobbers to detect bites. Many ice rods feature a super-sensitive, thin tip with stiff backbones to handle the fight with a large fish. The best ice fishing rods have a balanced and sensitive rod blank, a comfortable handle, and oversized guides to eliminate the chances of line freeze. Rod powers range from ultra-light for panfish to extra-heavy for pike or lake trout. Ice fishing reels should always be lightweight to accommodate the light rods. Another important feature of leading ice reels is reducing line twists to eliminate lure spin. Line used for ice fishing is dependent upon your conditions. Whether you’re braving the elements, in a shelter, shallow fishing, or reaching depths of over 30 feet, there are many options available. One thing is certain - ice fishing line should be low-stretch and sensitive. Sufix, PowerPro, Clam, and Berkley Trilene all make different lines for use when ice fishing. The best ice fishing lures and bait include little jigs, spoons, and soft plastics. Because fish are generally less aggressive during the winter, ice fishing lures are smaller and less intimidating. Since the jigs are tiny, they are often made with tungsten, allowing them to drop faster to where fish reside. The most popular of all ice fishing baits are wax worms, while maggots, grubs, and other larvae also get gobbled up by hungry fish.
The most common technique to use when ice fishing is jigging your favorite jig or lure with bait attached. Fish detect movement to find food and can see above them quite well. This is why jigging right on top of a fish is your go-to method for attracting and catching fish. Crappies and walleye are generally more active around and shortly after sunset while bass, pike, sunfish or trout move about during daylight hours. Another method of ice fishing is the use of tip-ups for larger species such as northern pike, walleyes, or trout. Tip-ups or traps are used to suspend your bait at a set depth without having to be in contact with your rod. When a fish takes the bait, a flag signals you to finish the job. Since you don’t have to stick around and can see the flag at a distance, you’re able to cover a larger fishing area. Some ice anglers will use flashers, sonar, or underwater cameras to display the movement of fish, your lure presentation, and structures under the ice. Use of these ice electronics enables anglers to see if there is activity without spending hours waiting and wishing for a bite.
With a Great Lake right in our backyard, you know FishUSA has all the essentials needed for a successful ice fishing season. Notable brands with the best ice fishing equipment are 13 Fishing, MarCum, St. Croix, StrikeMaster, and Striker.