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Ice Fishing

ice_fishingIce fishing is the term given to the method of fishing a frozen lake or river by first drilling a hole in the ice. Ice fishing has evolved considerably over the centuries. Originally it involved waiting by a hole on an exposed lake, usually sitting on a stool. Sometimes shelters are constructed around the holes, which can include living accommodation.

When you are setting off on an ice fishing day trip, you will need to carry all your equipment some way across the ice. A sled or a toboggan can be really useful here, and it will also come in handy when you are carrying your catch back to your vehicle.

It can be very difficult to find fish under a frozen surface. Many people invest in fish finders and other technologies that can pinpoint the location of fish. Underwater cameras are becoming increasingly common amongst ice fishermen, as are depth finders. If you want to try ice fishing without the use of technology to help you to find fish there are certain things to bear in mind. Firstly, it is best to try deeper patches of water, as these will contain the most oxygen and are therefore more likely to contain fish. You should also try any sheltered areas that may border a deep patch. If you find a concentration of old holes in the ice this is a good sign that you are on a good fishing spot.

When you have chosen your spot on the ice, you will then need to drill a hole through the surface. There are many tools, such as ice augers, that are designed for this task. When you are finished, your hole will need to be at least eight inches wide and no more than twelve inches in diameter. Most importantly, you need to be able to see open water through it. If you need to widen the hole, you should use and ice chisel to put the finishing touches to your hole by hand. Always strap chisels and other tools to your arm when using them as they can potentially fall into the hole. A stool or some sort of seat is essential, as you do not want to spend a few hours sitting on the frozen ice. As the day progresses the edges of your hole will start to refreeze, so you will need to clear it regularly, using your chisel or a skimmer.

You will not require a long rod when ice fishing, but should choose the strength of your rod based on the type of fish you hope to catch. You may also wish to invest in a ‘tip-up’. This will save you having to spend all your time concentrating on your rod for signs that a fish has bitten. If you use a tip-up, a flag will pop up, telling you when you have a fish on the line.

The bait you use when ice fishing of course depends on the species of fish you are hunting. Artificial lures such as ice flies or jigs that imitate bait fish are equally as effective as live bait. Your line will not usually need to be overly strong, unless you are chasing very large fish. As always, use the correct line strength for the average weight of the type of fish you are trying to catch.

There are some dangers inherent in ice fishing. For example, it is possible to become lost if you stay out on a lake for too long and get caught in the darkness, or if a snow storm or blizzard hits and you become disorientated. It is always a good idea to take a compass reading before you head out, so that you can find you way back more easily.  Always bring appropriate clothing when going ice fishing. If you spend all day on the ice without the proper clothing, there is a very strong risk of hypothermia setting in. Wear as many layers as possible, and try to wear polypropylene, or another moisture wicking substance close to your skin. Bring spare socks and boot liners, and if you get too warm you should remove your jacket to avoid sweating. You should not lace your boots too tightly when walking to you r fishing spot either, for the same reason. Any moisture from sweating will become trapped under all your layers and will result in your becoming very cold very quickly.