Everything is frozen and still. Before you lies a vast expanse of ice. It appears that there is no life anywhere, except for you. But, as a fisherman, you know that below your feet, there is very active life, in the form of perch, trout, walleye, and other fish. Are you ready to do some ice fishing?
The first step to successful ice fishing is ensuring that you are on solid ice. During the mid-winter season, you should fish on lakes areas that have approximately four inches of ice. During the later part of the season, you should note that even thick areas of ice can be weak. There are many contributing factors to weak ice, but the ice can look strong, and still be weak. Ideal ice will be clear, with few air bubbles. You should test it with a spud.
A spud is a long chisel that is used to poke through the ice. You can also use an auger, or even a power auger. Most ice fishermen carry their gear in a five gallon bucket, unload the gear at their fishing spot, and then flip the bucket to use as a seat.
For fishing line, look for Cold Weather Trilene, which is a thin and supple fishing line. Depending on the fish that you are trying to catch, you may need anywhere from one to ten pound test weight line.
During the winter, you will want to fish at dawn and just before dark. These are the times when the fish are most active under the ice. Patience is required even more in the winter time, as fish are a bit more sluggish, as they are cold blooded. It is recommended that you use a short flexible rod that is thin, in order to better judge what is going on under the water.
Be very still, and then move your rod around to see if you can entice the fish. Ice fishing is like playing chess – with fish. You have to outwit them. For bait, try waxworms. Trout, bass, panfish, bluegill, and yellow perch can all be caught very well on waxworms.
If you are new to ice fishing, try taking a fishing trip with someone who is experienced the first few times out. This will help you to learn the basic safety precautions, and the best ice fishing techniques for your area. Also, make sure that you dress in layers, with cotton on the inside, and wool on the outside for the best insulation. Cover as much of your body as possible!