Ice fishing has become increasingly popular over the years, and the technological advances that have happened over the past decade or so are have taken a toll on the way it’s done today. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about it or would just enjoy reading a little extra info on ice fishing, in general, we invite you to have a look at our list of ten things you might not have known about it.
1.You need a bit of gear to do it
The trouble with ice fishing is that not all people can do it right off the bat. You need to be committed to the cause, which is to say that you ought to understand that you require proper equipment in order to be able to do it.
Some of the essentials you will need are a fishing license, an ice fishing rod, fish hooks, an auger, a scoop, a bucket, a sled, pliers, a bait bucket, and your actual bait. When it comes to your fishing license, you need to be aware of the fact that every state has different regulations, so you might as well go online and do a bit of research if you plan to travel for your next fishing adventure.
Many states make one-day passes available, so you don’t have to worry about anything if you’re spending a limited amount of time in a particular state. There are also first-timer discounts you can ask or find out about. Do not go ice fishing without a license because you will be breaking the law. If you do, in some states you can get fined or even get jail time, especially if you accidentally catch a fish protected by the law.
2. Do your homework so you can stay safe at all times
You will have to take care of two things if you want to be certain that nothing will go wrong in terms of safety. One of them is to ensure that the ice you walk on isn’t too thin. If you don’t have a lot of experience in this sense, we suggest starting out with small friendly waters in your area. These can freeze a lot quicker and some zones like those in bays, backwaters, harbors, and channels off of lake systems and rivers are where fish gather up before the ice is formed.
If you have any such waters in the area you live and work, we suggest checking them out right at the beginning of the season. You don’t know what hot spot you might come across.
The second thing you’ll have to make sure if you want to be safe and sound is your clothing. You’re going to spend a lot of time outdoors, and let’s face it, the weather will be freezing. The last thing you’d want to do is catch a cold because you’ve gone out fishing or worse, become a victim of hypothermia and other cold weather injuries.
3. Some anglers have homes on ice
Have you ever heard of “ice houses”? These shelters are specially developed for fishermen and women who spend a lot of their time on the ice, which is to say that their trips take from half a day to several days at a time. Also known as “ice shanties” or “bob houses”, these small shelters can be made out of plastic or wood and are rather portable.
Because they are lightweight, one can use them wherever their services are required. If you were to make a comparison with something you’ve probably seen in your life, they resemble RVs or motorhomes. Some are outfitted with a lot of gear or are placed over the holes the ice fisher has drilled, and others come with kitchenettes, beds, and even satellite TV.
4. Have you heard of the world’s largest ice fishing contest?
Every year, over ten thousand anglers gather up for the world’s largest ice fishing contest, held on Gull Lake, Minnesota. The competition usually lasts for just about three hours, during which anglers have to do their best and get the biggest, heaviest trophy fish they can catch. The weight of the trophy fish varies from year to year, which is to say that there’s no record being kept from one year to the next.
For example, in 2017, the prize for the biggest Northern Pike caught went to Les Laidlaw from Mankato, MN, who reeled in a 5.54 lbs fish. The prize of the biggest walleye went to Florence Anderson from Owatonna, MN, who reeled in a 4.63 lbs fish. So, if you ever want to take a trip to Minnesota in January, you know where to go.
5. Flashers all the way
Unlike various other techniques or types of fishing performed in hot weather, ice fishing has seen a lot of improvements over time. Some of the methods you might be acquainted with have changed a lot over the past two decades. These days, ice fishers prefer technological advances because they help them catch more fish, remain more comfortable throughout the hours they have to spend on the ice, and make the sport a lot more challenging and entertaining.
The days of drilling a hole and waiting next to it have long gone. Now, you have something called flashers. With these devices, you can find out the location of your potential catch so that you know what to do when they’re close. These sonars can tell you the depth at which the fish is waiting for you, the presence of any objects and fish under the ice, and how they move.
The bait is shown on the screen as a marker, which makes it possible for anglers to find out the location of the fish in relation to the lure.
6. The sport can be fairly safe
Despite being somewhat frightening because of the ice, this type of fishing can be relatively safe. One of the coolest things about it is that most US authorities at resorts, parks, and a plethora of other fishing enterprises make an effort to check the ice before letting anglers know that it is safe for fishing.
However, this doesn’t occur for your local pond or lake, and many unknown circumstances could occur. For example, a group of ice fishers from Latvia were stranded for as many as several hours after the sheet they were on got separated from the mainland ice. The sheet then drifted into the Gulf of Riga, where these poor anglers spent several hours before being rescued.
7. But it can be fairly dangerous, too…
Even if you know that the ice you’re going to step on will be entirely safe, there are other issues to address, such as shelters and apparel. Hypothermia and cold weather injuries aren’t all that common in experienced anglers, but if you don’t take the proper measures to prevent them, you might end up in the hospital.
We also suggest reading some information about the ways hypothermia can be treated, so you can give a hand to a friend in need in case they’re caught off guard.
8. There are three types of ice fishing
Based on the equipment used by fishermen and women, ice fishing can be split up into three categories. The one calls for the use of a small and light fishing rod and bait such as minnows, fat heads, and wax worms. The angler lifts the pole from time to time to produce the jigging effect, so this technique requires the fisher to be next to the hole at all times.
The next type requires the use of tip-ups, and the last method is, in actuality, spear fishing. The latter is commonly used when fishing for lake sturgeon.
9. You need to dress in layers
Choosing clothes for ice fishing can be a challenging task if you’ve never had any experience in this sense. Even so, you need to follow a simple rule. You can always peel off layers if you’re feeling too warm, but you can’t add any if you have none. With pretty much any winter sport, you need to make sure that you’re always prepared.
You need to have at least three layers covering your body. The first has to be made from a moisture-wicking material because it covers your skin. The second is known as the warmth layer, so it is responsible for keeping your body temperature comfortable. This layer can be made from wool or fleece. The final layer is also known as the windbreaker, and it does little to nothing when it comes to keeping you warm per se, but it does protect you from the wind, which is kind of the same thing.
Synthetic fabrics are preferred for such outer layers because they don’t freeze and crack as is the case with leather, for example.
10. Common species you can target while ice fishing
Finally, if you’re remotely interested in ice fishing, you probably want to know what the fuss is all about it. Some of the smaller and common species you can catch are sunfish, perch, bluegill, and crappie. Larger species ranging from Northern Pike to Walleye can also be targeted, in which case you’ll need to use the tip-ups we were mentioning earlier on.
In Michigan, you’re allowed to target lake sturgeon and muskellunge, but there are restrictions associated with spear fishing you need to be aware of.