Winter is among us so we want to make sure you are prepared for the ice fishing season!
The History of Ice Fishing
Archaeologists believe that ice fishing started over 2000 years ago. Ice fishing was practiced by natives throughout North America and Canada as a means of survival. They needed access to food during the long, cold winter months and relied on ice fishing. When ice fishing first began, they did not use rods and reels. Instead, they used a technique called spearfishing. They would use ice chisels to chip holes in the ice and then would use hand carved wooden decoys and spears to hunt for the fish. As the equipment developed into fishing lines, they adapted and began using it.
The popularity of ice fishing is on the rise and it has become a favorite winter pastime of many. Technological advances have made it easier and much more tolerable and enjoyable for anglers. Today, there are fishing tournaments held throughout the midwest, with some drawing over 10,000 anglers annually!
Equipment You’ll Need
If you’ve never gone ice fishing and don’t know what equipment you’ll need, you’re in the right place! The list of essentials below are a great starting point for beginners.
List of Essentials:
- Proper Winter Attire
You never know what the conditions out on the ice are going to be like, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to wear plenty of layers and if you plan to be on the ice for a long period of time, think about bringing a heater, hand warmers, or even an ice fishing shelter.
- Ice Auger
If you’ve never heard of an ice auger, it’s what you use to drill a hole in the ice. There are many different kinds that range from automatic gas powered, to the ones you use by hand. If you plan on doing a lot of ice fishing, a gas or battery powered auger will probably be your best bet.
- Ice Fishing Rods and Lines
A standard spinning reel that you may have used over the summer won’t work for ice fishing. You’re going to need a special ice fishing line and a shorter, smaller rod that’s specifically designed for ice fishing.
- Ice Fishing Lures
Jigs, a type of weighted fishing lure, are pretty common among ice anglers. Slowly jigging the lure up and down, or side to side is the best way to attract the fish.
- Safety Equipment
You need to make sure you have the proper equipment and an action plan in the event something goes wrong. You should be wearing a proper floatation device anytime you’re out on the ice. You should also always bring a tape measure with you to measure the thickness of the ice. A rule of thumb is that if the ice is less than 4 inches, do not fish!
- Buckets and Sleds
The most effective way to travel onto the ice with all your gear is by pulling your tackle box and rod in a sled. You aren’t going to want to carry all of your stuff while you walk, so this is an easy way to transport all of your gear. You should also consider bringing a five-bucket if you plan on keeping the fish you catch.
- Fishing License
Having a fishing license with you is a must. Also be aware of the local rules and regulations in your state.
- Fish Finder
Although this tool is not necessary, it could help you immensely to locate and target fish that are under the ice. If you are more experienced and ice fish more regularly, you may want to invest in a fish finder.
What You’ll Expect to Catch
The particular species you can expect to catch greatly depends on the specific region and body of water. For the most part, where you find fish in the spring and fall will be the same place you’ll find them in the winter. Many species of fish can be more easily caught after the water freezes as they venture closer to the surface. It’s best to do some research in advance on the local species in the area to better understand their habits, ideal temperatures, and preferred baits. But generally, the main species you can expect to catch while ice fishing are pike, pickerel, walleye, panfish, and trout.
Ice fishing is an activity that is definitely worth trying if you’ve never experienced it before. It provides an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, while also getting some fresh air during the winter months. You might even discover a new favorite winter pastime!
Now that you’ve given our blog a read, you’ll be ready to hit the ice as soon as the lakes freeze over!