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TIPS FOR ICE FISHING PONDS   Leave a comment

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Finding fish through the ice can be difficult but possible.  The most obvious way is to know the water and at what level the fish are holding.  Bluegills and perch are typically near the bottom.  All fish seek a comfort zone in the water column.

Discussions with other anglers and at bait shops often will provide the information needed.  Portable fish locators and submersible cameras will tell you if fish are present and at what depth.  Since fish tend to school up during the winter you can ignore one or two fish in favor of a school.  Find where the crowd is and fish that location.

Since fish look for food at eye level or a little above it, knowing where they are will help in placement of bait or a lure.

Drill a number of holes and fish them all until you get some action.  The fish will move but generally not very far away.  Drill a pilot hole and lower some kind of line to measure the depth.  A weight placed on a length of fishing line works well.

On colder, low light days, star by fishing deeper and tighter to the available cover.  With more light and warmer conditions, fish shallow and close to weeds, drop-offs, weed beds, and any other submerged structure that tends to attract fish.

Anglers on ice should be mobile.  Many ice fishermen use snowmobiles or a sled.  The snowmobile allows you to pull a small ice house.  Both tools permit hauling tackle and other gear.  A tackle box with a selection of jigs, hooks and plastic jigs and an auger are essential.  A skimmer aids in cleaning ice off the hole.  A portable heater or lantern aids in keeping your own body temperature up.  Together all this is called the “bass boat of the ice.”

Ice rods and small reels as well as tip-ups complete the ice angler’s repertoire.  Ice rods are short flexible graphite rods made for ice fishing.  They are usually 24 to 36-inches in length and the reels spooled with 2-pound test line.  Tip-ups hold the bait at a certain depth.  The reel turns from the tug of a fish and releases a red flag signal.  When the flag flies it is time to hand line the fish up through the ice hole.

Hooks are usually size 8 or 10.  Small tear-drop jigs in a variety of colors are good.  Bait for bluegills and perch is usually grubs, mousies, wigglers and waxworms.  Hook small minnows through the back to allow them to swim freely.  Use a small bobber to keep the minnow or other bait at a precise depth.

Jig the bait and then allow it to sit motionless.  The movement attracts the fish and they strike it when it sits still.  Do not overdo the action.  If fish are reluctant to hang on to the bait, try using a fish attractant.  Attractants are at their best in cold weather.

Finally the best time to ice fish a pond is any time you can.  Ice thickens in the severe cold weather so it is probably most desirable to key on the warming trends, abrupt weather changes and low light periods.

SOME ICE FISHING BASICS   1 comment

Ice Fishing Basics

 

Not having a basic knowledge of a sport like ice fishing limits ones desire to participate. With a little forethought and some basic and relatively inexpensive equipment is all one needs to find success in this sport.

Since one needs to drill holes in the ice to get to the fish, an ice auger or ice chisel is a place to start. A child’s sled will serve well to carry all the equipment across the ice in one trip.

There are a number of good ice fishing rods and reels on the market at reasonable prices. They are usually about 2 to 3 feet in length and the reels are usually spinning reels.  They hold about 25 yards of 1 to 4 pound monofilament line.  Some ice anglers like to use tip-ups.  Tip-ups hold bait at a certain depth.  The reel turns from a tug of a fish and releases a flag as a signal.  When the flag flies, it is time to reel in the fish.

An ice scoop is handy to remove ice chips from the ice hole.

Plastic 5-gallon buckets come in handy to store equipment, hold fish and to sit on.

Hooks are usually number 8 or 10 size. Small tear-drop jigs in a variety of bright colors are handy.  Bait for bluegills and perch is usually grubs, mousies, wigglers and wax worms.  Small minnows hooked through the back allow them to swim freely.  A small bobber will hold baits at a precise depth.

Some optional equipment might be a portable shelter or fish house to get out of the wind. A portable depth finder or underwater camera lets you to locate structure, check depth and monitor fish.  A small lantern or heater aids in keeping you warm.

If larger fish are present you might like to have a gaff to aid in pulling them through the usual 8-inch hole.

Having several pre-drilled holes is wise. Crappies and perch tend to roam.  Mobility will likely improve your success.

Keep your bait moving gently. It sends out fish attracting vibration that they pick up through the lateral line.  Move the bait from side to side as well as up and down.  Check the entire water column beginning at the top and moving down in 2 foot increments.  Vary the speed and rhythm.

Perch tend to school vertically and can be found anywhere from the top of the water column just under the ice to the bottom.

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