So You Want To Ice Fish…
By Justin Gamerdinger
Looking to get into ice fishing? Ice fishing can be a very enjoyable hobby if one has the right tools to set them up for success. You may be wondering where to start and I’ll fill you in on a few tips and tools of the trade to do so effectively and enjoy your time on the ice!
First of all the most important thing to think about when getting started is ice safety. There is no such thing as safe ice and should always be on your mind no matter what time of the season you decide to venture out. I personally think my Striker Climate float suit is the most important thing I own when it comes to enjoying my time on the ice. Buying a quality ice fishing suit will allow you to fish longer and keep you warm and safe. Most of the various brands of suits on the market have floatation built into the suit. This will allow you to stay afloat in the worst possible scenario of falling through the ice into the freezing cold water. I’d recommend trying on various suits to find which one fits your needs the most. You’ll also want a good pair of boots. My preference of boot is one that is a rubber boot with a liner such as Striker or Baffin. The rubber boot will allow your feet to stay dry when the snow and ice are wet and slushy. Two other important tools that you’ll need especially for early or late ice are picks and a spud bar. Picks will help you grip the ice and pull yourself up easily if you should fall through and surrounding ice is wet and slippery. A spud bar is a great tool as well for checking the ice thickness. Every few steps you’d want to hit the ice hard a few times and if it doesn’t break through you know the ice is “safe”. If you are new to ice fishing or fishing unknown water please bring a friend with you and a throw rope in case you need it.
GET GEARED UP
In addition to safety, you’ll need to gather a few other things to chase fish effectively. You will need a way to get through the ice and there are a ton of options out there. A spud bar for early ice can break small holes to fish through as well as various types of augers. My preference for being efficient is a drill based auger such as an Eskimo Pistol Bit or a K-Drill. These are very popular because you can use your drill that you use all year long instead of filling up a gas auger or storing the large cumbersome auger all year long. The other perk to using a drill based auger is that the bit is usually light weight and makes for a more enjoyable day on the ice. So now you have your hole drilled what’s next? I’d recommend looking into purchasing some type of a flasher or graph for fishing. While you don’t need one to ice fish it will make you more effective when trying to locate your target species. Go to your local retailer and play around with several brands and ask questions to find one that suits your needs. Most modern graphs will also have a GPS feature which is critical in locating various types of structure and marking your spots for future adventures. Don’t forget to consider how you are getting your equipment out on the ice. Otter makes the best roto-molded sleds that are extremely durable with a variety of sizes to accommodate your amount of gear. Usually for early ice a smaller sled is all you would really need.
After you have safety gear on and your hole is drilled and the fish are located comes the fun part. Fishing. You’ll need to make sure you have a shorter rod for fishing so you can stand closer to the hole. Lots of different options are on the market today. Everything from cheap to expensive, production or custom, short to long, etc. My preference is finding a technique specific rod such as JT Outdoor Product makes. They have a wide variety of rods that will help you fish the way that you want and make you a more effective angler. Reach out to them via their website JTODP.com or talk to one of the various staff members to help answer all your questions and experiment with different styles to find the right fit.
Where does Lakewood come into play you may ask? Whether you buy an inexpensive rod or high end rod you’ll want to think of how you are safely bringing them out with you on the ice. Lakewood makes several sizes of Ice Rod Caddys that will allow you to carry several rods on the ice without the dreaded fear of breaking a rod. They all also have storage pockets for tackle trays, plastics, or additional items such as gloves. Lakewood also has several cases for allowing tackle storage as well such as the Mini Mag which is a great case that allows several 3600 cases and hard baits to be store in the top foam shelf. Ask myself with any questions you may have regarding tackle or rod storage as well as reaching out to Lakewood with all your questions.