Gearing Up for Ice Fishing

February 5, 2009 by  

Chris Hustad

It’s that time of year, ice fishing season is upon us. Cold weather has started the freezing process a little bit earlier this year. Consistent cold temperatures and no snow are the ingredients for some thick, sturdy ice; just when we need it. It’s going to be a good ice fishing season this year, and there should be plenty of action this December no matter what species you’re pursuing.Scouting for the ice fishing season is a lot like any other season. A few hours of your time in the off-season can dramatically increase your ice fishing success. And if you’re equipped with the right tools like a GPS, an Internet connection, and a sonar, it’ll allow you more time fishing and a lot less time looking. Here’s a few ice fishing tips that I recommend.
If you have a GPS, then your research starts in the summer. When you find a good honey hole, chances are it’ll still be good in the winter. If you spend a lot of time searching your favorite lake in the wintertime looking for “that one spot”, you can save yourself a lot of time next year with a small purchase. Using your GPS and a small journal, you can map out your favorite humps, rock piles, drop-offs, etc. This gives you the option to be very mobile when a spot turns cold. If you’re using a portable and packing light, you can be fishing another spot within minutes.

This summer I spent some time on the Nodak Outdoors stocking report search for North Dakota. This is available to members in the members area. It includes a database and links for stocking reports for North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. I checked the counties that I frequent while ice fishing in North Dakota and some neighboring counties I normally pass up. To my surprise, there are a lot of lakes that I didn’t know exist, and that hold a good fish population. I found a lake that I’ve never heard of that has one of the highest stocking levels in the state. Without searching I never would’ve found it. The search shows all lakes, counties, species, year stocked, number stocked, and species type in the state, and with coordinates to each lake. Get out this winter and experience some new lakes, you’ll be glad you did.

Nothing has increased my ice fishing success the past 4 years more than my sonar. I use a Vexilar, but there are many other quality sonar’s on the market. For those of you who are unaware of its abilities, here’s a few features that’ll save you time and bring more fish. The sonar’s work starts before the first hole is drilled. With some water applied to the ice surface, you’re able to read the depth and bottom type of the lake. This saves you time from the conventional method of drilling and dropping a weight to check the depth. Within 5 minutes I’ll know the exact locations of the drop-off’s or the middle of the river channel. Once the fishing starts, the sonar will basically take over for the rest of the time. While monitoring your lure position depth, you’re able to see approaching fish towards the lure. I benefit the most from the sonar while crappie fishing. Crappies move suspended to the bottom, and I’m able to keep the lure above the fish and trigger more strikes while keeping my bait “in the zone”. Crappie schools can be brief, so the more action you can get out of a running school the better. Keep your battery fresh, and charge it right after every time you use it. In the off-season I’ll charge it every other month for an hour or so to keep it fully-powered.

Ice fishing is one of the best times of the year to get family and friends involved in the outdoors. At times it’s more of a social event than it is a fishing trip, and I enjoy every minute. And there’s nothing that’ll spark people more than watching a bobber drop again and again, an hour of good action has landed me some new fishing partners over the years.

Get out this winter and be safe!


One Comment on "Gearing Up for Ice Fishing"

  1. Sean on Wed, 6th Jan 2010 3:29 pm 

    “an hour of good action has landed me some new fishing partners over the years.” I bet it has!

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