Ice Fishing Tips for Beginners

(and reminders for the more experienced fishers)

As temperatures start to dip and the water begins to ice over, many fishermen go inside for the winter to wait for the spring thaw. There are those special few, however, who bundle up in their winter gear, grab their auger and head for the nearest lake for some quality time on the ice. Ice fishing is a different excitement, with different tools and set of rules. Below are just a few to ensure you have a wonderful experience and truly enjoy nature’s winter beauty.

1. Even if you prefer to fish alone in open water fishing, it is highly recommended to take along an experienced friend or hire a guide if you are new to ice fishing. Just as other types of fishing have their own specifics, so does ice fishing. Even with doing research on the how to’s, having someone with experience there to help and guide you will ensure that things go smooth. Another bonus with having an experienced person with you is they can answer questions as they arise.

2. Be sure to invest time & money in the right clothing. The cold is your number 1 enemy on the ice. The biggest mistake people make is dressing like they are going for a walk in the cold. For ice fishing you will not be moving around, and therefore need to dress warmer, giving particular attention to your feet. When your feet are cold, your whole body is cold.

However, you don’t want to over do it either. With too many clothes, you may sweat or your movement may become restricted. The best thing to do is to wear breathable, moisture wicking clothes. When choosing your clothing, a good rule of thumb is to think of the layers winter athletes would wear. This way you can add or remove layers as needed.

3. Don’t switch between fishing techniques. While there aren’t as many ice fishing techniques as there are for open water, there are still more than one. The pros say it is better to master one technique and stick with that for the day. Try a different technique on a different day, after you have started catching fish.

4. Don’t worry about catching trophy fish (at least not at first). It is best to start ice fishing by catching the small to medium sized fish. The reason being – there are more of them, and they are easier to find. The smaller fish respond more readily to bait and aren’t as cautious as the larger fish tend to be. Catching more fish in less time also helps your confidence. And, honestly, there is nothing worse than spending all day fishing and leaving empty handed. Just be patient, the trophies will come!

5. And, the most important thing… safety. Ice fishing is great, but you must think of safety first. Even if you are fishing somewhere (Canada, Russia, etc…) where the ice is super thick (3 feet+), don’t forget that ice is just frozen water. The thickness is not uniform across the entire body; there may be currents that have thinned the ice out in certain areas. Also, be cautious of other holes that have been drilled out and covered over by thin layers of ice or snow. Late winter fishing can be dangerous as well, so pay attention to melting ice in the spring. Be sure to always have safety tools on you, such as an ice pick. And, if ice fishing alone, be sure to have some form of communication.

The experienced guides at Jack’s Charter Service will be able to help you find the right spot and have the right equipment for any situation. Guided ice fishing & river trips begin around December 15th (depending on weather and ice conditions). For more information or to book a trip, contact us. We look forward to seeing you on the ice!