It may not look like it now, but soon the outdoor landscape is going to change. It could be tomorrow or next week, but it's going to get cold, it's going to snow, there's going to be ice on the ponds and lakes, and we're going to have the opportunity to go ice-fishing. There are many young and more mature anglers who would like to become ice-anglers. Following are some ideas for making that happen.

In open water fishing, one of the most important things, perhaps the most important thing for new anglers, is to catch fish. When it comes to ice-fishing, catching fish is important, but being comfortable is perhaps even more important. It's hard to convince a novice angler that they're having a good time if they're not comfortable, and comfortable means warm. There's no reason to be cold on the ice anymore. Technology enables us to keep warm without wearing heavy, bulky clothing. Cabela's MTP Tech is an outstanding base layer to insure a warm day on the ice.

Otter Pond Ice Fishing

Through dad Dax Clark's instruction, son Max is learning how to ice-fish at a young age.​

Now that we know we'll be comfortable on the ice, the catching fish part becomes much more important. New anglers to the sport want to catch fish. They don't need to be big, but the catching needs to be frequent. Bluegills or yellow bass, depending on where you live, are usually reliable biters under the ice.

Sonar really enhances the experience for beginning ice-anglers. With sonar, you know if there's a fish below you. This adds excitement, and it also lets the angler know that there are fish in the area. Video games are a big deal to many young anglers, and ice-fishing with sonar is similar to a video game in their minds. Young people are very tech-driven and can figure out sonar and its application to ice-fishing quickly. Vexilar is the leader in ice-fishing sonar technology. They have created a line-up of sonar units that will fill anyone's needs.

Now for presentation. It's thought that what's a good presentation for the accomplished ice-angler should be good for the novice, and sonar certainly makes that more true. You can see the fish approach your bait on the sonar, and if you're paying attention or watching your rod tip you can feel or see them take the bait. However, there's something magical about watching a bobber floating in a hole in the ice, then see it slowly sink out of sight, or at least sink below the ice. Not a lot of finesse is required, and new anglers generally don't possess a lot of finesse. Sometimes, in fact much of the time, there's nothing better for the beginning ice-angler to use than a hook and minnow below a slip-bobber. The key is, set the bobber so the hook and minnow are above the level where the fish are.

As our ice-angler becomes better at knowing what the sonar is revealing, it will be good to go to a small jig and no bobber. The jigs location can be adjusted much faster without the bobber, so we can keep the bait at the desired level much easier.

Please don't think that I'm suggesting buying a sonar unit for a first time ice-angler. When you take a novice fishing, you need to devote time to instruction, and that means that you'll need to put your rod down, let him/her use your sonar, and you watch and teach. If you do it right, it won't be long before your new ice-angler is offering to mow the yard and shovel the sidewalk to earn money to buy his/her own ice-fishing gear, and that's a good thing.

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