The Ice Holes!

 If you have never been ICE FISHING, there are a few things you should know.

First of all, do not go out and buy anything quite yet! A spinning rod and reel will  do fine for starters.  I have know some that thought they would like to try ICE FISHING, only to find that they just could not adapt to the conditions on the ice. However, as is the case with most fisherman, they feel compeled  to go out & buy everything in sight that they have seen suggested by advertisements.

 As in every outside sport, there are some drawbacks. Fishing on Lakes  were ice exists can at times be quite dangerous! Frost bite for one, is quite prevalent! Every winter there are thousands of cases mostly with novices that have never fished in cold weather before. Thin ice is another more serious hazard. People, cars, trucks, fishing gear, heating equipment and just about anything else someone could take out on a lake have disappeared and end up on the bottom of some lake. Once I saw a  dumb ass drunk pull his pickup truck onto unsafe thin ice, cracked the ice and started to sink! Lucky the place where he drove onto was only about five feet deep. He was able to slide out of the truck before the water went above his head. Actually, I had to help him get out of the water by handing him  the butt end of a fishing rod, and pulling him to land. It was a bitch because it was about two below zero when it all happened. I got wet up to my neck which started to freeze. There were some locals that saw the whole thing and came to our rescue. I got into my car to thaw out and return home.  The drunk ruined my trip and his. He no doubt lost the motor in his truck, as well. I felt like kicking him in the “ICE HOLE” !

Please read this before you attempt to go ice fishing:

Ice Safety and Self Rescue

Emergency Self Rescue – The 1-10-1 principle.

Despite what most of you may think sudden immersion into icy water will NOT send you immediately into hypothermia and self rescue IS possible.  Dr. Gorden Giesbrect, a specialist in cold water immersion at the University of Manitoba summarizes what happens to us when we take the plunge through his 1-10-1 principle.

1 – You have ONE MINUTE to get your breathing under control.  When suddenly submerged the body experiences what is known as the cold water gasp reflex.  Involuntary gasping can occur and it possible to aspirate water into the lungs.  In most circumstances your first priority should be to just get your breathing under control.  After about a minute the gasping will subside, the skin numbs and the feeling of intense cold will decrease.

10 – You will then have about 10 MINUTES of meaningful movement.  This is your window for self rescue.

Diagram from Best Practice for building and working safely on ice covers in Alberta.
1- You have ONE HOUR before losing consciousness.  After about 10 minutes you will loose the ability to effectively use your arms and legs due to the effects of the cold water.  The actual time it takes to become unconscious depends on a number of variables including what you are wearing.  Bottom line….  Once you fall unconscious (if you are not frozen to the ice shelf) you will slip below the surface and drown.  Even if unresponsive, if you can keep your airway above water rescue is possible within two hours.


 Browns & Rainbows though the Ice on Lake Michigan!

As long as you keep yourself warm, and safe at all times, ice fishing can be fun. If you’ve never experienced the thrill of catching browns or rainbows  threw the ice, this winter could be your chance.  Trout are found in  almost all of the Lake Michigan Harbors, and also up in many of the rivers. Browns and Rainbows are some of the best fighting fish you’ll ever catch threw the ice.
Remember! Do not get drunk on the ice, or you might find yourself on ice in some morgue!  It is always better to be safe than sorry, especially on rivers or harbors where there is constant current and ice shifting. Many harbors have under currents and thin ice where you might think it would be safe. Rivers are the most dangerous! If you break through the ice, the current might suck you under! When first staring out, I suggest staying in harbors, or where you see others fishing on the main part of the lake close to shore. Just like fishing from a boat, it is always a good idea to ice fish with someone else.
Here is a Sturgeon Bay  Wisconsin report written last year:
March 2014 we had a good walleye ice bite going in the Sturgeon bay area with some monster eyes!! We will book up march 2015 so please consider March dates? January & February dates can be appealing as well but weather plays a huge roll on the walleye bite theses months! If we can get some stable weather patterns we generally get walleyes however with the crazy wind,steady fronts, bouncing barometric pressure the January & February bite was up & down in 2014.Whitefish bite typically goes strong all winter however we are finding that whitefish are no given anymore! With additional fishing pressure the last few years, whitefish in my opinion are becoming educated to the “old gold spoon slider rig technique” don’t get me wrong still a very effective way of catching whitefish especially when your on a new population of whitefish or first ice but when fish have been pressured we found that the #2 #3 jigging raps & fat raps also a new lead ball slider rig can be the way to go with pressured fish. As well as moving houses in and out on deep water breaks. Whitefish go deep when pressured on Larsons reef we have fished whitefish in 100+ feet of water already. Whitefish can be found sallow feeding. (Limekiln rd Cast a ways bar) area is well known for shallow feeding whitefish.
Ice Auger – Manual and gas-powered augers are used to drill holes through the ice. Manual ones are suitable for a beginner to use as long as they remember to keep the blades sharp. A dull blade makes it extremely hard to drill through ice, no matter the thickness.
Ice Scoop- Used to scoop the drilled ice out of the freshly drilled hole.
Chair- A comfortable chair or five gallon bucket to sit on.Tip Up – A type of fishing apparatus that is placed over a whole cut or drilled through the ice. They are usually made of wood or plastic and have an attached flag on a spring type pole. When a tip up is set, the flag is down; when a fish bites, it pulls the latch, allowing the flag to pop up. This way, an angler can have several set on different holes at the same time, and still keep track of what poles have most likely caught a fish.Jig Pole – A small pole resembling a typical fishing pole in miniature. It is extremely flexible and comes complete with reel. They are perfect to use when fishing a small area or the angler does not want to only have tip ups set about.Line- Any good, cold weather line will do to start.

Line Cutter- A small pair of fingernail clippers makes an excellent line cutter.

Depth Finder – A small weighted clip that you attach to your line. Dropped into the hole, it will pull your line out until it touches bottom. Then, pull your line in two to three feet and mark your line. Next, pull it out and remove it before baiting hook. This allows you to make sure you keep your hook approximately two to three feet above the bottom for optimum fishing.

Bobbers – Small floatation devices attached to your lines that sit on top of the water. When the bobber is pulled beneath the surface, the angler has visual proof that a fish has taken the hook.

Hooks – Numerous hooks are used for ice fishing. This area is trial by error. Some people swear by spinner hooks, while some will use regular jig hooks. Special hooks such as those that glow in the dark, suitable for night fishing, and other specialized hooks exist. An assorted collection for different times of day and different species of fish is a good idea.

Bait – Basic bait used for ice fishing of smaller fish includes wax worms, mouses, small minnows, and flies. The main baits used to attract larger fish are minnows and smelt.

Ice Shack- In years past, an ice shack meant building a wooden structure, often complete with storage, chairs, a heater, and more. While many anglers still rely on ice shacks such as these, placed semi permanently on their favorite lakes, small portable units do exist. Tent like in structure, they come assembled on a sled base, to make hauling across a lake to your favorite fishing spot easier, complete with holes that pop out of the base so you can place them directly over your drilled holes.

Fishing License- Ice fishing follows many of the same rules that apply to any other type of fishing. A license is required from your local DNR or license outlet.

Common Sense – Ice fishing does have risks not associated with other types of fishing. Be aware of ice thicknesses and listen to DNR warnings concerning thaws and ice conditions.


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