At BraeVal we are hooked on ice-fishing! One of our favorite things about ice fishing beside layering up in our braeval tartan shirt and jacket is that we are able to do it with a group of friends and family. Ice fishing creates the chance to spend time in the outdoors during a season when you’re limited on outdoor activities...it is fun and the kind of sport that just might reel you in.
Whether you are a newcomer considering trying ice-fishing for the first time or are pro, we have put together six basic tips to keep in mind when planning this outdoor adventure.
This seems like an obvious tip, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Before ice fishing always make sure that the ice is safe. As a rule of thumb, the ice should be at least three to four inches thick for walking and at least six inches for an ATV or snowmobile. Continue to check the safety of the ice as you move away from the shoreline. Always carry a few ropes in case someone falls through. Also be aware of currents which can make spotting unsafe ice tricky. Always avoid areas where a brook or stream enters. And, always keep in mind that different bodies of water freeze at different temperatures.
Call A Friend
For most fishermen, ice fishing is a social event. Have fun setting up an "ice camp," that usually consists of a portable propane grill, folding chairs, a couple of dogs, and plenty of food and libations. It is also safer to go out on the ice with a friend in case you run into trouble. Plus, the more people, the merrier, and more traps lead to more action as fish forage all year round!
Know Your Spot
If go fishing in the spring, summer, and fall at a particular body of water and have success catching fish, chances are you will find fish in that spot during the winter months. Be sure to set your traps at a variety of depths and check them about every half hour.
Cutting the Hole
Most ice fishermen use a good chisel to cut an ice hole, although some pros may use a hand auger to expand and drill the hole. Keep an eye on your hole to make sure it doesn't freeze over, to avoid this, skim out any ice and make sure the traps don't freeze over. When cutting a hole, it is good etiquette not to set up to close to others. It might be tempting to do that especially if fish are being caught, but remember, fish are moving around!
After you drill your hole, you might want to drop a Deeper Sonar to read the depth, figure out where to drop your bait, and of course, to find fish! It is entertaining to watch the fish on your cell phone, if you have service where you are fishing - think of it as a back to nature video game! Every ice hole that you fish is automatically saved on your phone using GPS so you never forget a ice fishing spot.
What you use for bait depends on what is available from your local bait shop. Shinners are the primary bait, get big ones for bass or pike and small ones for trout and panfish. It is a good idea to buy a selection of all the bait offered to find out what bait works the best for your location.
Ice fishing in New England is an age old tradition and gives us the chance to enjoy warm snacks, jokes, fortifying beverages, and the great outdoors with friends.With today's techy gadgets we can now determine if there is fish activity with the added benefit of getting a fascinating view of life below the ice.