If you love to eat fresh fish, give ice fishing a try. You’ll never eat better-tasting fillets than those of fish caught from frigid waters. Ice Fishing Tackle and Electronic Fish Finders are the most guideline for you.
The sport has gained tremendous popularity in recent years. In fact, many northern anglers have become as impassioned about their sport as fly fishermen or tournament bass anglers are about their favorite pastimes.
Even so, expensive tackle isn’t required. In fact, novice anglers can buy al the basic items for less than the cost of a bass fisherman’s bait cast reel.
Another advantage is that many sections of the lake that you can’t fish in the summer become accessible when the water is covered with a solid layer of ice. Also, the use of portable ice shanties and fish finders have made ice anglers more mobile, and they’ve discovered that they can be more successful by moving with the fish.
Ice Fishing Tackle
Ice fishing tackle is often easier to learn to use (and can be far less expensive) than gear used by warm-weather fishermen. Here’s a look at the types of tackle from which you can choose to get started. Be sure to ask at your tackle shop for recommendations so you end up with gear that’s best for you.
Combos: Beginners can purchase an inexpensive, all-purpose, pre-assembled outfit that includes rod, reel, and spooled line. Also check out the miniature spinning outfits designed for specific techniques.
Rods: Traditional ice rods are short because long rods are awkward to use when sitting over a hole or inside fishing shanties. Anglers who stand up to jig for bass, walleye, or pike, however, prefer longer medium-action or light-action rods. Rod action should be matched to the line size. If fishing for pan fish, a short, limber rod and light line adds to the excitement of playing the fish. However, stretch monofilament line fished on a limber rod in deep water makes it difficult to set the hook effectively on hard-jawed fish.
Reels: Tiny spinning reels that accommodate small line have become extremely popular among ice anglers in recent years. Make sure the reel has a quality drag system that can handle power runs from big fish.
Line: The smaller the line, the better success you’ll have. Many panfish anglers use nylon sewing thread with a breaking strength of less than 2 pounds, but small-diameter monofilament works just fine. The smaller line gives the bait a more natural appearance to the fish and offers less resistance when a lethargic fish sucks in the bait. Fish will take the bait better and those bites will be more noticeable. Of course, 2-pound line isn’t desirable when fishing for large game fish. If those big fish have teeth, you’ll probably need a steel leader to prevent the fish from snipping the line when they strike your lure or bait.
Bobbers: Traditional ice bobbers are made of sponge, wood, or plastic, and they’re small so you can see the tiny nibbles of light-biting fish. Spring bobbers that glue or snap to the tip of the rod blank are another option. Pass the fishing line through the last rod guide and extend it into the orange eyelet of the spring bobber. Spring bobbers make tiny bites more visible, too, but aren’t as effective on windy days.
Hooks and sinkers: These also should be small. Live-bait hooks should be only large enough to hold the bait, yet strong enough to handle the size of fish you are pursuing. Use the lightest sinker (weight) possible so it provides little resistance when fussy fish pull on the hook.
Baits and lures: Although some artificial lures are effective — especially when fish are aggressive and shallow — live bait tends to be the most consistent producer through the ice. Bluegill and crappie can’t resist tiny ice flies jigged in their faces. For novice anglers, though, a simple teardrop jig tipped with a live wax worm or mousie maggot works better.
Bass, crappie, walleye, and pike prefer a lively minnow hooked just beneath the dorsal fin or through the lips, but these species also may strike un-baited jigging lures, such as small spoons or minnow imitations.
Fish Finders Live Up To Their Name
Fishing electronics truly live up to their name “fish finders” when used in ice fishing.
Before fish finders came along, anglers had to rely on word of mouth or educated guesses to determine where the fish were on a day-to-day basis. But with a fish finder, you know whether the fish are beneath you, and at what depth, before you wet a line.
Electronics actually are more accurate in ice fishing than they are when used from a boat because the unit remains stationary. In addition to being able to spot fish, quality units allow you to see your bait or lure as you move it up and down.
When searching for a good area, it’s best to drill a hole and place the transducer into the icy water for a quick look at what’s below. Sonar will penetrate the ice, providing there are no air bubbles to interfere with the signal and the surface is smooth. But if you want a more detailed look, shoot the sonar signal directly into the water.
Fish tend to roam a lot and at various depths during the winter, so anglers without fish finders can be sitting over a huge school of hungry fish and not get a bite. The reason? The lure or bait they are using isn’t presented at the proper depth. A fish finder will guide you in adjusting your lure presentation — before the school moves on.
Serious ice anglers prefer the flasher-style fish finder to a unit with a liquid-crystal display, although both types work on ice. Once you learn to read a flasher, you’ll be able to determine promptly and accurately how close fish are to the hole and whether they are small or large.
In either case, the fish finder must be portable and the batteries should be charged often and kept warm until they are ready to use. Weak batteries may still power the unit, but they won’t have the strength to produce subtle fish signals.
Special carrying boxes customized for ice electronics are available. Most boxes have an aluminium bracket mounted on the front. The adjustable bracket secures the transducer in an ice hole so sonar signals are beamed directly under the water.
It’s wise to position the transducer in the same hole you’re fishing because the sonar signal will detect your bait easier and display it on the screen.
Another key to seeing your tiny jig is keeping the transducer perfectly level. That is achieved by gluing a small, inexpensive bubble level onto the top of the transducer. (The levels can be purchased from a store that carries recreational vehicle accessories.)
Ice fishing is a social sport that embraces all types of people and families. The same anglers who are secretive about their summer outings can be found fishing in a group of other anglers. If you’ve never been ice fishing, or have limited experience with it, ask your tackle dealer about today’s equipment that will add comfort, enjoyment, and success to your experience. There’s not a better way to spend the winter.