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One of the most anticipated times of the year is winter ice fishing. Whether you've never been, are just getting started, or have been ice fishing your whole life, here are some tips and tricks for fishing specific species in the winter.Fish feeding and behavioral patterns often change as the seasons change. If you wish to target a specific species, you can choose the depth, bait size and location (such as near shore or around land sites that extend into deeper water) to increase your chances of catching that species.
Brook trout:
The number one tip for ice fishing brook trout is to stay shallow. Brook trout prefer shallow inshore habitats in winter, and the best brook trout are found in water depths between 4 and 12 feet. Although some prefer less than 5 feet of water!Brook trout are especially hungry in winter, so using worms or live bait can be very effective on slant and small tackle (be sure to check the regulations to make sure these baits can be used in the waters you plan to fish).
Lake trout (tongue):
If you're fishing for lake trout (togue), try fishing around land spots that extend into deeper water. Focus on water depths 15-40 feet from these landmarks. Large tongues roam these areas in search of food and are often caught close to the surface and bottom.Lake trout can be found at different depths, so using a combination of traps and jigging can help you determine at what depth they feed.
Inland Salmon:
Inland salmon are often caught "under the ice" and should be fished within 15 feet of the ice.Ice fishing for inland salmon can also be very productive in winter using smelt or other legal baitfish of similar size (such as common silverfish, silverbait, or eastern silver minnow).2 to 5 feet of 6 or 8 lb fluorocarbon line tied directly to the hook behind the ice line will minimize gear visibility and may result in more flagging. When working with smelts, the #8 hook size is ideal.
Splake is a hybrid trout, a cross between a brook trout and a lake trout. This cold water species is easy to catch and offers excellent winter fishing opportunities.Splake feeds primarily on smelt, white bass, yellow perch and minnows. Therefore, baiting with baits that mimic these species can be very effective.
Tips On Stay Warm When Fishing in Winter
Nothing makes a day on the ice more miserable than getting cold feet. Learning to keep your feet warm while ice fishing is essential if you want to catch more fish so you can spend more time outside. It's easier said than done, but there are plenty of ways to beat the cold and warm your feet and body.
1. Stay dry. If you want to stay warm, you need to stay dry. Yes, it may seem like an easy task, but even the smallest leak in your wader pants can be a real problem in winter. The water temperature is usually not much above freezing, and even the tiniest trickle can soak the warmest wool socks and end your day early. Before you go fishing, make sure your wading boots will hold up. Also consider the need to keep your hands dry, which is not an easy task, especially when you are catching and releasing trout. Remember to keep a dry hand towel in the pocket of your wading jacket so you can dry your hands after releasing a fish.
2. Keep your extremities warm. When fishing, your feet and hands (and your ears and nose) often bear the brunt of the cold weather. Warm socks are a must – wool socks under wader pants when fishing in winter – and hand warmers are often required. With the Ocoopa Union 5s Rechargeable Hand Warmer, you get a simpler but better experience. It features 4 levels of adjustable heat for an enhanced hand warming experience. You can choose how much heat the hand warmer emits. Then, once the battery dies, all you have to do is plug it in and charge it for later. The rechargeable battery allows you to charge the hand warmer outdoors for 15 hours anytime, anywhere.
3. Anything But Cotton (ABC). If you only take one thing away from this tip, it's this: Anything But Cotton (ABC). Wool dries faster than other materials, but the general rule is best described by knowing your ABCs. Cotton soaks in water quickly but dries slowly, so it is not suitable to wear it next to your body when fishing in winter. Again, follow the simple ABC rules and consider fleece or microfleece tops and bottoms. If it's really cold, wear your thickest pair under your wader pants. For warmer winters, a thinner fleece.
4. Drink plenty of water. Drink water, even if it's not hot. Hot tea and coffee may help, but both are diuretics, which means you may need to get out of the water more often to answer nature's call. Hot alcoholic beverages? Avoid them, or wait until you get back to the car or truck. While you may feel warm when descending, alcohol can actually lower your body's core temperature.
5. Has everything you need to start a fire. Even just some kindling and a lighter are worth carrying in your fishing vest. If you or a buddy dunk and you're not near your car or truck, a fire by the creek could save your life. And, let’s be honest, it’s always nice to have a fire to keep warm on a cold day.
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