Ice fishing sounds easy enough, but getting continued success can be surprisingly difficult. Typically, there will be some early catches, but then, the fish will mysteriously “just stop biting.” Here are some tips for ice fishing to keep your bucket full for the duration of the trip.
- Vary jig types. According to Steve Ryan of Lake Link, most anglers start out with a vertical jig. This is initially successful, but eventually, all of the nearby fish willing to react to it will have been caught. That’s when it’s time to switch to a horizontal jig to draw in other species.
- Change the bait. Live bait is often seen as king, but some fish just won’t fall for it. Once the live bait stops working, switch to plastic. Panfish like bluegill often prefer it, perhaps because of its novelty. The best plastic bait uses a tiny head with a long finesse tail. It reacts to even the smallest movement of the rod, which gives the impression of plenty of action.
- Stop jiggling the line. It’s standard practice to bob the bait up and down while jiggling the line, but fish soon become accustomed to the motion and stop seeing it. Twisting the line while leaving it at the same depth will wake up bored fish and attract their attention.
- Chum the water. There’s no need to be fishing for sharks for this trick to work. Grind up some bait worms or minnows and throw them down the hole. This will draw more fish over and get them feeding. Then surprise them by putting some of that bait on a hook.
- Stay safe. Every year, some ice fishermen drown because the ice gave way. To be fully safe, the ice must be 4″ thick. Some chance going out when it’s thinner, but this increases the chance of breaking through. Also, be aware that ice on the Great Lakes can break off in big floes – with ice fishermen helplessly along for the ride. Fishing Tips Depot recommends that anyone going out fishing keep a charged cell phone handy. Fishermen should also let people know where they’re going and when to expect them to return.
With these tips, ice fishing can be safer and much more productive. Give them a try and see how many more fish end up in the bucket!
Also be sure to protect yourself from the elements with a Litefighter shelter!