Archive for Ice Fishing
It’s that time of year again. When you wake up in the morning and have to scrape your windows before you drive to work in the dark and you are lucky to see daylight when you get home from work. But there is one good thing about this time of year. It is going to start forming ice. After the ice starts it is time to break out the ice fishing gear.
Before any ice fishing season you should go through all your equipment and test it at home before venturing out on any lake. This will save you many headaches and cold fingers out on the lake.
First of all I check my ice fishing clothes and wash them before the season starts. I make sure my long underwear is in good condition as well as all my outer wear. Make sure to patch any holes or replace it before the season because there is nothing like a nice December wind blowing through you outerwear right onto your clothes to put a chill into you. Make sure you have a fishing towel. I prefer to use a golf type towel so I can hang it up in my ice shack so the heater keeps it nice and warm and dries it faster. This is actually a necessity on the ice so you can dry your hand after handling fish or minnows. This will keep your hands a whole lot warmer. Invest in some quality socks. My favorite socks are Black mountains from The Gene Edwards Company. They are fairly expensive but well worth the money. They stay up on your leg even after walking great distances and wick the sweat away from you while retaining the heating qualities. Good quality outwear is a must as well. Try to get something with at least a waterproof lower because of the constant kneeling in the snow and water near the holes. Boots and gloves are very critical too. I prefer Rocky and La Crosse boots. I have owned both and they are both warm and comfortable. Also pick up a pair of ice cleats especially for early ice when there isn’t any snow yet.
After you get your clothes ready and make sure everything is in working order including the zippers and any tie downs it is time for the fishing equipment.
I check all the assemblies of my rod and reel combos. Make sure the reel is securely attached to the rod. Then change all the line on the reels. I use Berkley’s Micro Ice line. Make sure the reels are lubed and ready for the season so you don’t get unwanted squeaks or reel hitches on the ice. The frozen air will accentuate the problems.
Tip-ups should have their braided line changed at least every other year. Use one that won’t freeze up or kink.Then tie some new monofilament leaders. I prefer a 2-4 foot leader. I also make my own steel leaders for northern fishing as well using braided wire. Make extra leaders up ahead of time so you don’t have to tie on hooks out on the ice and you can just unclip it and put a new one on. Make sure to use a good swivel for you tip-ups as well. Check the grease in the tip-ups to save it from freezing up on the ice too. Also check the condition of the flags. If the flags are torn or loose on the shaft replace them.
Now that your rods and tip-ups are ready to go it is time for the ice shack. If you have a portable shack set it up in the garage or your yards and make sure the sled is in good condition and patch any holes or trouble spots. Check the canvas thoroughly. Patch any holes in the canvas and spray it down with a water repellant spray to make sure that water doesn’t leak in as much as possible. Check all the pivot points and tubing as well.
On a permanent shack you will want to check the runners and make sure they are solid and not rotting or cracked. Check the walls and make sure they are not damaged as well as the windows. Check the floor to make sure there are no weak spots or rotten boards. Replace all broken or week parts of the shack.
Ice augers are one of the most important items in ice fishing. There are several types to choose from. I usually use a spud bar early in the year but mainly to check ice conditions every few feet. Ice can for very unevenly and safety is first priority. I like to use a hand Lazer auger early in the year or when fishing in large groups of pan fisherman because some are offended by power augers even though I don’t personally feel they affect the fish even in shallow water. I have drilled hundreds of holes in as shallow as 3 feet and seen fish under my hole right after drilling with my Jiffy power auger. I do use a power auger most of the year because I drill many holes per day to find and follow fish as they move. The main thing to check on the augers and spud bar is to make sure they are sharp. Any blades should be replaced or sharpened before the season start. Power augers should have new gas put in them and a new spark plug and then test to make sure it is running properly. If it is not running properly take it to a small engine repair shop for a tune-up to insure a year of good use. It is a lot better to know your auger will work before you drag it out on the ice and it doesn’t run. I always carry an extra spark plug with me too as they tend to foul out occasionally.
Once your augers are ready it is time for the rest of your ice fishing gear. Make sure to have your tackle ready to go. Untangle all you tackle and sharpen hooks or replace them with new ones. Also on new jigs punch the eyes out before putting them in you tackle box to save time and possible cold fingers having to do it on the ice.
Next up is your heater. Check all the connections and test your heater. Make sure the heater is in good working order. If it flames up get it serviced so it will run properly.
Another useful tool on the ice is a lanyard. I put a jaw spreader, depth finder, clippers, jig eye cleaner, and forceps on them for easy use. Other useful tools a 5 gallon bucket for your fish which I line with a garbage bag so I can remove the fish easily after fishing and it doesn’t make a mess out of my bucket. Grocery bags work well for this. Check the condition of your bait bucket for leaks or cracks. Make sure your minnow scoop is in good order as well. They are very cheap to replace. I prefer the floating nets so I don’t have to stick my hands as far into the water.
If you have a Vexilar or Aqua View make sure to charge the batteries and test them before taking them out to the lake.
After you have everything ready to go and head out for the lake be extremely careful to be sure that the ice is safe. I don’t like to go onto ice thinner than 3 inches. Make sure to test the ice every few feet to insure safe travel especially if you are the first one out.
Remember think safety first, be considerate to others out on the ice, don’t leave any trash out on the ice even if it isn’t yours, and if you check all your equipment first you will have a safe successful season.
writteb by Dale Helgeson from outdoor experience
Early ice fishing is getting under way on the Chain, and many anglers simply love heading out on the frozen lakes in pursuit of early winter action.
Early season ice fishing can be hard to beat. It seems panfish, as well as predator fish like walleye, northern pike, and bass, are a lot more willing to cooperate in the early part of the season than in mid-January or February.
While early ice usually produces the best action of the winter, I wasn’t among the first on the ice. I usually waited a little bit to be sure of the ice conditions. Two inches of ice will usually hold a man weighing about 180 pounds. But keep in mind that even though the ice may be two or three inches in one spot, it may only be half an inch 10 feet away.
Three-to-four inches of ice will hold a couple of guys walking single file. Maintain a reasonable distance from one another if ice conditions are like that and carry a rope along if you should run into a problem. Also remember, don’t panic if you break through.
As I mentioned before, the early part of the season is probably the best. If you fish for panfish, use as light a line as you dare. Use small teardrop jigs and ice flies for both crappie and bluegill and tip them with waxworms. Crappie like minnows too, so remember to have an assortment of live bait.
One item a lot of ice fishermen rely on is a Vexilar. Vexilars help locate fish, show how deep they are, will mark your bait and even allow you to see the fish take your bait. Panfish aren’t very aggressive during the winter and will quickly drop bait. That’s why Vexilars or other electronics like Aquaviews are handy during the winter.
and once you locate them you should have a hand held GPS system so you will know right were to go your next outing on the Ice. heres some cool info on GPS http://www.autonavigationgps.com
Northern pike are one of the more popular species during the winter. They are fairly easy to get, and don’t require much work. Using large shiners or smelt under a tip-up will usually get you some action during the daylight hours. Use braided dacron line, and steel leaders to prevent bite offs.
Walleye require more finesse. Early and late in the day is usually better, but the best bites will be at night. A lot of guys will use tip- up lights attached to their tip-ups for them, and medium shiners, or fathead minnows are the bait of choice for walleye. Many people will use Windlass tip-ups because they have arms that will move up and down in the wind to give it some jigging action.
So, if you have put away your gun or bow for the year, and are anxious to get out fishing and have some fun, give the early ice a shot. There isn’t anything much better than getting a mess of fish out of cold water for a fish fry.
I found an interesting article about someone driving their pickup truck out on the ice to test if it was safe enough for ice fishing.
We’ll apparently it wasn’t.
MUSKEGON COUNTY MI WZZM13.com – After hours of pondering, it finally took an excavator to remove a Chevy Truck partially submerged in Wolf Lake.
The Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department tells WZZM 13 News the truck was removed after chainsaws cut away the ice that had formed around the truck.
Then, an excavator and chains pulled the truck out of the hole, and back onto a safer surface.
The weather actually helped remove the truck. The freezing rain anticipated for Sunday wasn’t as bad as expected, so further freezing did not happen.
The warm-up in temperatures may be to blame for the unusual sight Saturday.
Around 1:00p.m. a truck fell through the ice on Wolf lake.
There was a local ice fishing tournament going on at the time, but many wonder why the truck was there in the first place.
Some believe the driver was heading to an ice fishing spot.
Many think he sank because the warm-up was melting the once-thick ice.
From others, there is criticism, saying truck never should have been out there in the first place.
John Davis of Muskegon was one of many who saw the whole thing unfold.
“He was doing about 40 or 45, and the further he started getting, his truck started sinking down,” says Davis. “The next thing I know, his truck’s in the water, and they’re bailing out of the truck.” Read More→
Everyone is always talking about the ice being too thin.
Are you ever worried that the ice on Fox Lake may be too thick?
Get one of these babies and you will never have to worry about that any more! If it looks a little heavy, don’t worry because you could drive a Semi on ice as thick as the one in the movie below.
Check out more fun fishing stories on the Fox Lake Fishing Forums