How to Ice Fish: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go
If you are going to start enjoying the great activity of ice fishing, then make sure you are well prepared, so it is an enjoyable time out on the ice. When learning how to ice fish, it’s important to not only have the right equipment but the right information as well so you can stay safe and catch those fish!
Here are our ice fishing tips for staying safe at the ice hole.
Ice Fishing Safety
No matter what equipment you buy, none of it will matter if safety on the ice isn’t prioritized. The first piece of advice is to NEVER go out onto the ice alone. Always enjoy the day with a fellow ice fisherman or group. The extra hands could be a lifesaver if anything goes wrong.
It only takes minutes for hypothermia to set in so falling in the frozen lake or becoming incapacitated in the cold means you are in big trouble quickly.
Secondly, always let others know you are going out to the ice fishing hole, where you are going, and when you are getting back to shore. This is important in case a storm blows in or there is an issue with the ice and return isn’t possible.
By alerting people on the details of your ice fishing trip, they will know to get help if needed.
Make sure to take a life jacket or flotation suit, along with a cell phone and ice rescue picks as well.
Know Your Ice
Learning how to ice fish includes understanding ice safety. Ice needs to be at least 4 inches thick before fishing is safe. It has to be at least 6” thick for a snowmobile or ATV to go on, and an ice fishing shelterneeds 7-12 inches to be safe.
Trucks are not safe until there is a foot of ice. Always be aware that ice thickness can vary depending on the frozen lake, so make sure to be overly cautious.
While ice thickness is important, watch for bad or rotten ice as well. This means looking for odd-colored ice, cracks, breaks or holes, too. Pressure ridges and shallow water are always a problem for safety as well.
Also, be aware that ice can move if it’s on a large body of water. It can break and shift with strong currents or winds. Don’t be that person who needs to be rescued. Rescue services may save you but not your truck, hut or any other gear.
Get the Right Gear
Getting out to your fishing hole means needing warm gear to help brave the wind and low temperatures. A well-equipped ice angler wears layers, and you should begin with a base that wicks moisture. Then add some long underwear.
Over those layers,wear a warm shirt or sweatshirt. Next, some track pants and then bibs if you have them. Make sure your jacket is thick and warm.
Don’t forget some warm socks, waterproof boots, a hat and gloves. There are some great floatation safety suits as well that are warm and will help protect you if you end up in the water.
Getting Ready for the Ice
Knowing how to ice fish means having the right equipment heading out on the ice. The first thing needed will be something to make a hole with.
This means an ice saw, ice chisel, or an auger. Augers are the easiest and can be either gas or hand-powered.
You want to dig into the ice until you hit the water, aiming for a hole size between 6” and 10”. Don’t go bigger, as it ends up being dangerous.
Once you have the auger or saw, then there is a need for an ice scoop. This is to get any extra ice out of the hole. This keeps the line free from snagging.
Rods and Reels
Anglers could choose to use a summer rod,but most go with the shorter ice fishing rod. It is usually a rod that is about 24” and can be bought with a reel or separately. You will need a rod along with a reel, jigging lure, and bait.
The other option is a tip-up. This is a rod that allows fishing in more than one hole at a time. They are setups that go over the hole and suspend a hook with bait at a depth where the fish may be.
Using a fish finder can help find out where the fish are and once that is figured out, then the line can be set. It has a flag that tips up when there is a tug on the line.
When the flag moves, then a quick check of the line will let you know what has been caught.
How to Ice Fish
Getting ready to head out means being prepared with more than just gear. Make sure you know the officialgovernment regulations.
The Department of Natural Resources has rules, regulations and various license requirements. You will need a license and there are hefty fines for not having one.
This is to make sure that fishing is controlled and there is no overfishing or depletion of the stock.
Know your catch limits and make sure to stick to them. The ministry is often out on the ice as well, making sure people are abiding by the law.
When you finally are ready to go and have all the gear ready, then it’s time to catch a fish. Once the hole is ready, then do a long line cast toward the bottom.
If you wait for a while and nothing happens, then move the line up and retry. Move the line up and down slowly. Fish aren’t moving fast, so don’t make any quick movements.
Learning how to ice fish isn’t complicated, but it is more than drilling a hole and dropping a line in. Being properly prepared to go out on the ice is important.
You want to be safe and enjoy your time out on the ice. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but having the basics in place and knowing how to get set up will make the day more fun and successful.