As the winter season grows stronger, a lot of people will try their luck with a session or two of ice fishing. Although ice fishing is quite a popular activity, it also poses some risks for the fisherman. No one should venture out onto the ice without knowing these 10 ice fishing fundamentals.
If you need to fish in winter to provide a meal for you and your family to ensure survival, the following ice fishing fundamentals are all the more necessary. Follow these pointers for a successful ice fishing session and to make sure you get home safe.
10 Ice fishing fundamentals:
- You should only venture out onto solid 4 inch-thick ice to make sure you stay above the water. Falling through will be the end of your journey as you can get trapped under the ice. You will panic and won’t be able to make it to the surface. Even though you manage to pull yourself out, without a change of clothes and proper shelter hypothermia can kill you in less than 20 minutes.
- Experienced fishermen say that ninety percent or so of fish live in 10 percent of the water. You should look for spots with cover, which are ideal hiding spots for little fish and where the big ones come to feed. Once you find the place, you should crush up some of your live bait and chum the hole. The oils and scents of your bait will stimulate the fish as they drift towards the bottom. Fish are usually slow in cold water and their metabolism needs to be stimulated to trigger their feeding habits.
- You should also acknowledge that fact that since fish are more lethargic as it gets colder, you will have a hard time catching some of them. Fish become more active as the water gets warmer. They are taking baits more readily at the beginning and the end of winter.
- Fish have well-developed senses and besides having excellent smell, vision and taste, they can also hear incredibly well. Taking into account that the water is amplifying sounds around them and that you are sitting on a sizeable acoustic casing, you should pay attention to your moves when ice fishing. Don’t dance around your fishing hole or continuously move from one hole to the other as you will only scare them away.
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- Since fish feed on other moving creatures, it is just natural that they like their pray moving and you should consider this when ice fishing. Although it is recommended to use natural bait if you don’t have such bait you should opt for jigs and small, flashy spoon. Keep in mind that the fish should be lured with slow jiggling movements. All fish are cold blooded and they all become lethargic when the water gets cold, bait moving frenetically will not look natural and they will not approach it.
- Taking into account the moon phases is an ice fishing secret I’ve learned from my grandfather. A new moon or full moon will spurt fish into feeding and it’s the perfect time to try your luck. This is one piece of information that has been passed on from the lost ways of living.
- You should learn a thing or two about the fish you are going after. For example, walleye and perch are usually found close to the bottom of the lake. On the other hand, crappies are typically suspended. With this in mind, you should adjust your fishing conditions and techniques based on the fish species you intend on catching.
- Always look for underwater structures since these are ideal fishing spots. These structures provide both living and feeding opportunities for the fish. You should assess the terrain of the body of water before you start digging holes. Weed lines, underwater humps and even submerged trees are the things you should look for.
- Your clothing should match the environment and you should avoid wearing flashy colors. Fish can see color and when the water is clear and your fishing shallow you can scare them away. Even with the proper clothing, you should keep movement to a minimum over the hole if you’re hoping to catch something.
- Plan your ice fishing session based on their schedule, not yours. You should know that most fish species are at the peak of their activity early in the morning and late in the afternoon. When possible, take advantage by fishing these periods, particularly in the early mornings, which can be more productive. If you didn’t catch anything by noon, it’s time to rethink your strategy and try the next day.
If you decide to go ice fishing you can find below a basic list of ice fishing equipment that are a must:
- A good fishing rod, you can’t suceed without one (see more)
- Ice scoop (this will help you remove excess ice from the hole)
- Proper winter boots
- Ice cleats (these will provide traction for your shoes and will allow you to move safely)
- Suitable winter clothing
- Ice safety pick (these can save your life if you fall through the ice)
- Bucket (I recommend to have more than one bucket. You can use it as a seat, or container to store the fish you caught)
- Ice chisel or auger (you won’t be able to dig a hole without these tools)
Ice fishing can be a rewarding activity if you follow the safety rules and the essentials. Always make sure you have a charged phone and let someone know that you’re ice fishing. They should know when you are living and when they should expect you back.
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