Method 1. Choosing an Ice Fishing Rod
Method 2. Choosing the Reel and Line
- You may need to use a thinner reel lubricant for ice fishing than for warm water fishing, as thicker lubricants tend to gel in colder weather. (This is the same reason you use a thinner or multi-viscosity oil in your car during the winter.)
2. Choose a light test or class line. Lines of 2 to 6 pound test (1 to 3 kg class) are usually the best choice for ice fishing. Most ice fishermen spool their reels regular nylon monofilament line, although some favor lines specially designed for ice fishing.
Method 3. Rigging Your Line
- Some ice fishing jigs more closely resemble the flies used in fly fishing and are called ice flies.
- Some fishermen take the treble hook off the spoon and attach a short leader in its place, to which they attach a jig. This setup attracts perch and other panfish.
4. Consider sweetening your lure with some live bait. Although ice fishermen more commonly use live bait when fishing with tip-ups, some add tiny minnows to swimming lures or small pieces of fish underbelly meat to a spoon. The fish meat adds a natural smell and taste that the artificial lure alone can't provide and makes finicky fish more likely to take the bait.
5. Add a spring bobber for a more fluid lure or bait action. A spring bobber is a small bobber that attaches to the line by means of a spring wound around one of its projections. The bobber's buoyancy helps to smooth out the jerkiness of jigging small jigs, spoons, and swimming lures up and down and also helps detect when fish take the bait. This aspect can be useful when wearing gloves while fishing or in other situations where it's necessary to rely on sight instead of touch to detect when you have a bite.
- Most of the time, you'll want to fish close to the bottom, particularly when the lake or stream is completely covered with ice, as the water at the bottom is both the densest and warmest. Good places to fish when ice fishing include places where the bottom of the lake drops sharply (drop-offs), at the mouths of streams entering the lake, and around submerged brush, weeds, and trees.
- Check the laws of your state or province regarding how many ice fishing rods and other devices you can use at any given time.
- When you first start ice fishing, a good hand-powered ice auger is sufficient for drilling the holes you need. As you gain more experience, you may want to purchase a power auger. Some fishermen choose to drill multiple holes in the ice, while others drill only a single hole at a time. If you choose to drill several holes at once, you'll want a skimmer to keep the holes clear of slush while you fish.
- Wear ice creepers or cleats when walking on the ice.
- Beware of newly formed ice when ice fishing. Ice should be frozen hard to a depth of at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) before you step out on it and not be covered with a layer of water or snow or have pressure cracks. Ice tends to be thinner at the shoreline, around rock piles or weed beds, near the mouth of an incoming stream, or over a sub-surface spring.
- Although drowning is a distinct possibility if you should fall through the ice, the greater danger is hypothermia. Your survival time in the water ranges from 20 to 90 minutes, depending on your size and the amount of clothing you're wearing, although your arms will become too numb to help you extricate yourself after only a few minutes. You can increase your chances of survival by carrying an ice pick, gaff, or long knife to spear the ice near the hole to give yourself leverage to pull yourself out, or failing this, pull your arms and legs into your chest. To rescue someone else who's fallen in, use your ice auger, rod, or tow rope from your ice sled to reach the victim and pull him or her to safety.