Ice Fishing 101- What to Expect

Most sportsmen think of fishing as a relaxing and laid back event. Maybe you will go to a lake or stream, pack a cooler and kick back while you wait for a bite. It’s almost always warm. However, there is another side to fishing that is much more extreme. Ice fishing takes many of the stereotypes and throws them out the window. While the goal of landing a fish is still the same, almost everything else is different, from the environment to the experience itself. If you have been considering branching out into ice fishing, here’s a basic overview of what to expect.

Get Your Feet Wet With an Expert

One of the best ways to break into ice fishing is to tag along with someone else who is experienced in the sport. If you happen to have a friend who can show you the ropes, consider yourself lucky. If not, don’t give up just yet. There are dozens of resorts and programs in various states that can give you the full ice fishing experience for a reasonable price. They will make sure that have all the equipment that you need and that safety is taken care of. Some may offer equipment packages for you to purchase, while other programs may just provide a supply list and point you to the sources for each item. Which route you prefer will be determined by the time you have to prepare and the budget that you have to work with. Either way, having a helping hand can be crucial in learning the ropes and sticking it out for the long haul. Ice fishing can be much more frustrating and technical than other types of fishing.

Try it On Your Own

Once you have gotten a feel for what an ice fishing trip entails, you may feel comfortable planning your own excursions. The main thing to keep in mind here is to prepare in advance. If you have had a previous trip where equipment and supplies were insufficient, make note of that and fix it now. Not having adequate supplies can kill an ice fishing trip before it even begins. Adequate food and warm clothing and bedding is extremely important. Also, the proper cameras, rods and bait are necessary. Also, be sure that any lubricants used are rated for ice fishing to avoid having problems when you get on the ice. A new ice fisher often misses seemingly obvious concerns because of inexperience. If this happens to you, don’t be discouraged. Just learn from it and make sure to take it into consideration in the future. Also, don’t rely on other fishers to have spares. Weather conditions can be extreme and it’s unfair to take essential supplies from more prepared teams.

It’s All in the Timing

All fishing is subject to good timing, but with ice fishing, this is even more critical. Migratory and swimming patterns can change at a moment’s notice and the hole that you have perfectly prepped can sit there without a bite. Unlike being on a boat, you can’t just float on over to a new spot, either. Knowing the prime season for your favorite spots can definitely increase your chances of having a good harvest, but never rely on any one sign. Understand the various factors and use those to determine the best places to drill. Talk to other fishermen that have experience with a particular location. Build a network and use it for your planning.

Keep Your Tools in Good Working Order

Nothing is more important than a successful ice fishing expedition than well functioning tools. This includes everything from your mode of transportation, to your auger, to your actual fishing gear. Always do a thorough inspection, change batteries and fill gas tanks before setting out. This is especially important if it is the beginning of the season and things have been sitting around. Wear can occur after a period of dormancy, so do maintenance before you take any trip. Sharpen tools that need it and restock any supplies that have been depleted. Don’t neglect personal gear like coats and tents, either. This will ensure that your trip will go off smoothly when you make it to the ice.