by Bob Jensen
There were snow-flurries in the air this past week, and air temperatures have been in the lower to mid 30’s. There’s been too much wind for ice to form, but there’s no doubt that another ice-fishing season is getting closer. And with another La Nina weather pattern in the works, we could be on the ice earlier and later than usual. If we want to take full advantage of our ice-fishing opportunities, we need to prepare now. Following are some things you can do to be ready to go fishing when the ice is safe.
You need to get your ice-fishing stuff ready to go fishing. Make sure the batteries in your depth-finder are charged and ready to go. Do that right now: If you don’t you’ll forget and, when it’s time to go fishing, you could end up with a depth-finder that won’t work, and that’s a bad thing. If you have yet to discover that a sonar unit will help you catch more fish through the ice, this is the year that you need to make that discovery. Vexilar is the pioneer in ice-fishing sonar and continues to be the innovator. Modern sonar is easy to use and will, without doubt, enable anyone to catch more fish with a depth-finder than without. Make sure your depth-finder batteries are charged.
If you have an ice-fishing shelter, check it out. Open it up and let it air out. Check for missing parts. If you don’t have a shelter but are thinking of getting one, research the variety of shelters available. There will be a bunch of them set up, so you can sit in the seats to make sure they’re comfortable. Otter makes a complete line of 1 or 2 person units as well a hub shelters. Hubs are kind of like tents and provide a lot of moving-around room.
Spool fresh line onto your reel. You don’t need to replace all the line on your reel. Just remove maybe twenty or thirty yards of the old line and tie new line to the remaining line. When you’re ice-fishing you’re only using maybe forty or fifty feet of line in most situations. You want that line to be fresh. A new favorite among many ice-anglers is P-Line Floroice. Floroice is virtually invisible underwater, and that’s important. Because of how we ice-fish, the fish can get a very good look at a lure, and line can spook them. Not always, but when the fish are finicky, invisible line will result in more biters. Start the ice-fishing season off with fresh line!
Fish become conditioned to lures and presentations. When they’re not eating what you’re showing them, you need to show them something different. There’s a new spoon out from Northland called the Glo-Shot Spoon. It’s got a unique wobble and a unique glow. It just became available in stores, so it will be very new to fish in many areas. If you fish pressured fish, the Glo-Shot could be what it takes to get them to bite.
And, then when it’s time to actually go fishing, make sure the ice is safe. We’re all looking forward to getting out there, and that first ice bite can be really good, but that water under the ice is really cold: You don’t want to go through. Remember that ice thickness can vary, especially early in the season. The ice close to shore might be plenty thick, but as you walk out farther, it can get thinner. Pop plenty of holes as you go out to make sure you’re still on safe ice. If you stay on safe ice, and if your gear is ready, you’ll enjoy your first ice-fishing trip of the season.
PHOTO CAPTION-A hub shelter such as this is gaining popularity among ice-anglers everywhere.
To see new and old episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, current and archived fishing articles, or fishing tip videos, fishingthemidwest.com