There are many techniques for Ice fishing. They range from the most basic as a spool of mono and jigs to motorized vehicles towing out a house on the ice. In my opinion if you’re fishing that’s all that counts. However; we can all improve the time spent out on the slab. First and foremost is having quality gear. Yes you can use anything sold out there, but winter fishing wreaks havoc on your gear. Second is knowing where you’re going. Third is staying versatile. For most of us we get very limited time to fish, and that time is precious.
Ice fishing will throw you many curve balls. Every day the conditions will be different. They can even change several times in one day. The gear you wear and carry will be the first factor in your success. If you are not out there, there will be no chance. Layering clothing from your base out with breathable, wind, and water resistant fabrics are a must. Layers will hold heat in while expelling the moisture. Gore-Tex and Wind stopper membranes will block the wind, and retain core temps. As the day warms you simply remove layers to maintain your comfort. Your fishing gear’s quality is important also. Your rods, reels, tip-ups, augers, and line need to be hardy enough to handle the frigid environment. Skimping on equipment and tackle will eventually interrupt a good fishing day. Buy quality, and maintain your gear. If you do not manage it off the ice it is bound to fail when you need it.
Knowing the water you are fishing will only improves the experience. I use maps, summer exploration, and word of mouth to learn the fishery. Find out the fish species. What bait is abundant in the lake. Research what the species do in colder water temperatures. Most importantly know the inlets, outlets, depths, and features. Safety is key. Not knowing what is under you is a huge mistake. Ice will be thinner near inlets, springs, and currents.
Staying versatile is how I approach a day on the ice. I set tip-ups, and hand jig. This allows me to better cover the targeted water. I set my tip-ups at depths that my research predicts most effective. However; I jig in a systematic manner that allows me to gage if the fish are staging in different depths from my tip ups. If they are, then I adjust. Some days this is key to finding where the fish are. If your tip-ups are not flagging and you’re hooking up on the jigs at the same depths, it’s time to move the tip-ups to the jig holes.
Time fishing is supposed to be fun. Personal comfort and success facilitate this. Use the regular fishing season to do your homework. Make sure you are prepared for the conditions. Be ready to adjust tactics and location. These are the most important components of my success. And if you’re coming up to Vermont on vacation this winter, let us take all the guesswork and preparation out of planning an ice fishing trip and go out on a half or full days guided ice-fishing trip with us!