Some ice anglers never seem to get out of the beginner level because they don’t understand the equipment and techniques involved in the activity. Even if, compared to open water fishing, there aren’t a lot of ice fishing techniques, there are still a few that you should master.
Follow these ice fishing tips so you can improve your skills the next time you go on a trip!
Have the Right Clothing
The cold is your worst enemy during an ice fishing trip. Don’t dress the same way you would do for when you’re simply walking in the snow or skiing. Ice fishing is a different kind of activity because you’ll be sitting or standing quietly on the ice instead of constantly moving. Give more attention to your footwear because if your feet get cold, your whole body will too.
While it is important to stay as warm as possible, don’t let thick layers restrict your movement or make you sweat. Perspiring will make you feel cold even more and increase your risk of getting sick.
Breathable and moisture-wicking layers are always recommended so you can add or remove them depending on how you feel.
Don’t just move your jig in an up and down motion as fish may be accustomed to stop reacting to it. Experiment with new techniques like holding the line between your index finger and thumb. Then, roll or twist the line between your fingers. This will cause the jig to spin in the water while remaining at the same depth. You can also move the jig around the perimeter of the hole without imparting any up and down motion on the jig.
Use Plastic as Bait
Try using plastic lures instead of live baits. Bluegills and panfish easily get tired of live bait, so swap them for a round head jig with a sliver of plastic hooked on it. Finesse plastic jigs are also excellent search jigs and perform great in clear water.
Look Down the Hole
Try looking down the hole to see if the fish is taking the bait so you’ll learn how they respond to different types of bait and jigging techniques. Looking down the hole is also an ideal way to take larger bluegill, perch and suspended crappie. Bluegills usually hover in front of bait for many seconds before inhaling it and spitting it out instantly. Your only hope is to look own the hole and set the hook once the fish inhales the jig.
Best Targets for Ice Fishing
Tailor your fishing techniques depending on your target. Here are the most common species under the ice and some tips to catch them.
- Pike – Catch them with live minnows like chubs or suckers, or spoons and jigs. They usually held near the bottom.
- Walleye – This is one of the most well-known ice anglers. Most are caught within a few feet at the bottom, and anglers typically use jigs when pursuing them.
- Trout – trouts in small waters rarely reach the size of their counterparts in huge ones, so adjust your bait accordingly. Use live insects for small trouts and minnows for large ones.
- Perch – This species form schools of more than a thousand fish under the ice, preying on minnows and small fish. These species are also light biting so use a light line.
Don’t Jump from One Technique to the Other
It’s always better to master one technique and go from there instead of jumping one from another because of failure. One mistake that most anglers do, especially beginners, is that they want to try everything in a short period or even during the same trip. Then they never learn to master any of them.