perch on ice

Ice Fishing Basics to Keep Your Bucket Filled on the Lake

With the right cold-weather clothing and equipment, time spent ice fishing with friends can be quite enjoyable. While some might think you’re crazy, they don’t know the serene beauty and stillness of a quiet frozen lake or the satisfaction of finally pulling your prize catch out of the hole.

We understand, and we want to help you keep those buckets full this winter. So, like a veteran journalist, we’re going to break down the who, what, when, where and how of ice fishing to make this your most successful winter yet.

Who: Know Your Fish

fill your ice fishing bucket

A good part of your ice fishing technique comes down to the type of fish you’re after. For starters, different fish are active at different times of the day. If you’re hunting walleye or crappie, for example, you want to plan to be on the ice 90 minutes before sun up or 90 minutes before sundown. Pike and sunfish, on the other hand, are active throughout the day.

Knowing your preferred specifies can also help you determine where to set up camp. Certain types of fish may be more plentiful at certain depths. Different species are also more susceptible to different jigging techniques. For instance, jumbo perch like when the jig bounces of the bottom, according to Lake-Link.

There are many other variables. Spending some time upfront researching your desired species on the internet before you head out could save you a lot of sad, fishless hours on the ice.

What: Tools of the Trade

Sure, you can just set up with a bucket and hole and get lucky. Or you can make your own luck by investing in some ice fishing equipment.

HELIX7CHIRP-350Flasher/sonar systems, such as the Humminbird Ice Helix 7, make ice fishing particularly simple. Using sonar waves, they help you locate fish so you can use the right lure location, depth, and style to catch them.

The types of lures you use can also help bring in more fish. One trick of the trade is to switch to plastic lures once the fish stop biting the live bait. Believe it or not, they can actually tire of the live bait! Fish can respond differently to different shapes of jigs as well, so be sure to keep a variety on hand.

Where and When: Be at the Right Place at the Right Time

We already mentioned that certain fish are active at different times of the day, but there are other timing issues you should be aware of.

The fish, in general, tend to be more active in stable weather, and full and new moons can trigger feeding frenzies that you may want to take advantage of.

Timing can also determine where the fish are most likely to be. Early in the winter, small lakes and shallow weedy bays will be your sweet spot. Not surprisingly, larger lakes are a better pick for later in the winter since they’re more likely to have some warmer areas that fish prefer.

How: Additional Trade Secrets

tricks of the ice fishing trade

Every angler has their own secrets of success. Here are a few you might want to try:

  • Get jigging with it. You probably already know that certain methods of jerking the line can attract fish. As mentioned, some species respond to different jigging techniques. Keep in mind that fish are slower moving in the winter, so if you jig too fast, they may pass up your bait, not wanting to expend the energy.
  • Chum the hole. Try grinding up some bait and dropping it the hole to bring fish your way.
  • Be a troll. No, not the big fuzzy-haired kind. Ice trolling refers to the technique of using an auger for ice fishing to drill several holes in the ice at various depths and fishing them in rapid succession. This technique is especially effective when the ice gets thicker and the fish go deeper.
  • Shut your hole. An open fishing hole can introduce light that may scare fish off, so make sure you cover the hole while you fish. Some ice shavings can do the job.

Hopefully, these tricks and tips will help you catch more fish on the ice this year.

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Up North Sports
2000 Division St W
Bemidji, MN 56601

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218-444-SNOW   (218-444-7669)
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