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Alternative Thoughts about Ice Fishing

 

Ice Fishing Rods

While I like ice fishing rods being small and compact I think the fact that so many of us are using them for all hard water applications we’re actually handicapping our ability to land fish. Think of the reverse situation and the picture will become clear. How often have you seen someone using an ice fishing rod in the middle of summer to jig up a walleye? The answer is very likely never and the answer is pretty simple. The longer rod gives us more control when fighting fish and when it comes to ice fishing, the same holds true. The longer rod helps control and land more fish. That’s why I will often use my regular summer rods when I hit the ice.

That being said, the ice fishing rod definitely has its purpose. When it’s cold out a lot of fishing is done within the confines of a shelter and this is where the ice fishing rod shines. It’s compact enough to fish within the shelter while still giving us some flex to help fight and land fish.

The Set Line

While I like jigging when ice fishing I have to admit that a huge number of the fish I catch are caught without my hands on the rod. A still fished bait or, and here’s a real secret, a still fished fly, has outfished my jigging efforts more times than I would count. In line with the ‘less is more’ theory, the ‘do nothing’ set-up does it all. It fishes continuously, it doesn’t jerk or jiggle or dart in any way that may spook a fish and it gives fish as much time as they need to make up their mind to bite or not. I’ve suspended small nymph flies a foot or two under the ice and had amazing results on both trout and whitefish. Likewise, a still fished one eighth ounce jig tipped with a minnow placed a few inches off bottom has been more than most Pigeon Lake walleye could stand – particularly with 4 pound test line.

Plugging for Trout

My friend Aaron Torrington put me onto this many years ago. He figured that if plugs worked so well for trout through the summer, how come we don’t jig with them in the winter. So, he stuck a split shot on the nose of a floating rainbow Rapala and dropped it down in 15 feet of water. He gave the line some sharp jigs and inside of two minutes his rod was bent double. This marked the start of something special. It seems that big trout will go out of their way to hammer a minnow and some of the rules don’t apply. I can get away with slightly heavier line and more action. Fish will make more allowances to strike when they figure they’re getting a big meal. The trick with winter plug fishing is to try to tire the trout out before it gets to the hole. It’s trickier than it sounds and some patience is required. The goal is to be able to pull the trout up the ice fishing hole in one smooth motion. If the fish struggles, a free point on an exposed treble all too often catches the edge of the ice and its game over.

So there you have it – a few tips that may modify your approach to ice fishing. While they may help us land more fish, I can tell you that if all I had was a spool of line and a hook in my pocket, I’d still be happier than a clam. It’s the getting out, which for me is always the best thing.


Previous Fishing Tips & Facts

(1) The Roll cast

(2) Fly-fishing for Pike

(3) Walleye Tip

(4) Mountain Lakers

(5) Hints For Dry Fly Success

(6) Survival Strategies For The Silly Season

(7) Local Advise

(8) It's A Pink Year

(9) Ice Fishin Safety

(10) Third World Travel

(11) Casting Angles

(12) The Rocky Mountain Whitefish Rig

(13) Using Sinking Leaders

(14) The Pike Fisherman's Vest

(15) Walleye Tips

(16) Trophies Are In The Eye Of The Beholder

(17) The Right Tool For The Job

(18) Respect The Weather - Expect The Weather

(19) Approach

(20) Gearing Up For Ice Perch

(21) Do It Yourself Excersions

(22) Shots

(23) Atlantic Salmon Fishing Techniques

(24) Fishing Etiquette In Crowded Conditions

(25) Swinging Caddis Flies

(26) Selecting a Fishing Rod

(27) Pike Angling Retrieves

(28) Detecting The Strike

(29) Unmatch The Hatch

(30) Off The Grid Air Travel

(31) Practise

(32) How Deep Are They Biting?

(33) Netting and Landing Your Fish

(34) Texas Travel Tips

(35) Quick Tips for Triggering Strikes

(36) Be the Last Man Standing

(37) Water Temperature & Trout

(38) Visiting Reindeer Lake

(39) Stillwater Stratagems

(40) Those Crazy Cohos!

(41) Leaders & Tippets

(42) Big Water Strategies

(43) Small Stream Stealth

(44) DO I GET UP EARLY?

(45) ACCESSIBLE PLACES TO FISH

(46) Travelling Angler Tips

(47) Choosing The Right Fly

(48) They come out at Night - Our Friends that is

(49) Fishing at Night

(50) Having Troubles Catching fish?

(51) Having Troubles Finding Fish?

(52) Stay Skinny To Catch Fish

(53) Tips For Fishing With Kids

(54) The Wonderful Woolly Bugger

(55) Wading Safely

(56) Double Your Fun

(57) More About The Red River

(58) Rookie Rod Buying Tips

(59) Hook Sharpening

(60) Going Light

(61) Hopper - Dropper Rigs

(62) Tips For Buying A Pontoon Boat

(63) Fishing Tips and Facts for Sturgeon

(64) Three Flies to Live by

(65) Reading Rise Forms

(66) Tips and Facts for Early Season Success

(67) A Fly for All Seasons

(68) Ice Shelters – Seeing is Believing

(69) Effective approaches to working small streams

(70) Unburdening the Travelling Angler

(71) 5 Flies for Anyones Fly Box

(72) Road Trips

(73) Dry Flies for High & Dirty Water

(74) Tips For Dealing With Biting Bass

(75) Summertime and the Fishin’ Ain’t Easy

(76) Depth and Light

(77) Rigging Large Dry Flies

(78) Best Rod for Spring Angling

(79) Stream Etiquette for Floaters

(80) Tackling Whites Through the Ice

(81) Angling Tips for Finding Books

(82) Winter Smart Open Water Angling

(83) Fall Primer for Pike

(84) Packing Tips

(85) Tips and Tackle for the High Country

(86) Hunt them Shallow

(87) Polarized Sunglasses
The smart anglers’ advantage.

(88) Fishing Tips for Early Season Flyrodding

(89) Know Your Knots

(90) Alternative Thoughts about Ice Fishing

(91) Tips for Mexican Bonefishing

(92) Techniques for Tantalizing Grayling

(93) Understanding Fly Leaders & Tippets

(94) Catfish on the Fly

(95) Get Your Backswimmer On

(96) Reading the Sonar

(97) Insect Identification Made Easy

(98) The Sinker and Floating Plug

(99) GADGETS & GIZMOS for "OLD GUYS"

(100) Fishing Drop Offs

(101) Stay On Fish

(102) Landing The Big One

(103) Fighting Fish on a Fly Rod

(104) North Saskatchewan River - Be River Aware

(105) Backswimmer Pothole Trout Frenzy

(106) Hunt for Suspended Fish

(107) Reading Your Waters Before You Cast

(108) Setting Up Your Bait Casting Reel

(109) Fishing Journals

(110) First Casts of the Season are at a River Near You

(111) The Crazy Whitefish Days of Last Ice

(112) The Bait of Choice

(113) Shallow Water Jumbo Perch

(114) Getting Started on the Ice

(115) Plan an Ice Fishing Getaway

(116) Brookie Season

(117) River Fishing is Heating Up

(118) Become a Better Angler

(119) The Forgotten Pike

(120) Get Out Your Plugs and Spoons

(121) Slip Bobber is King in Spring

(122) See You at the Show

(123) Red Hot Whitefish

(124) Staging Walleye

(125) The Lure of Lake Whitefish

(126) Great Rainbow Fishing At First Ice

(127) A Simple Approach to Ice Fishing

(128) Big Pike Combo Approaches

(129) Gearing up for Fall Whitefish

(130) River of Gold

(131) Bottom Bounce Your Way to Success

(132) Small Stream Fun

(133) Consider the Spawn and Water Temperature
for Early Season Fish

(134) I Believe - The Glow in Glow Jigs

(135) Tricks to Improve Your Ice Fishing

(136) Trout Fishing is Red Hot

(137) Dealing With Fishing Pressure

(138) All I Want For Christmas

(139) Staying Warm on the Ice

(140) Hunting Big Browns in Lakes

(141) Where Did All Those Walleye Go?

(142) Keep an Eye on the Weather, Fury of a Storm

(143) Great and Affordable Fishing on the West Coast

(144) Lake Whites in the Summer? You Bet

(145) Prime Time for Lakers

(146) A Slip Bobber is so Much More

(147) Ice Fishing for Pike and Walleye

(148) Catching a Big Pike

(149) Purchasing a Rod

(150) Catching Rainbows through the Ice

(151) Gearing up for the Snow and Ice

(152) Gearing Up For Pike

(153) Getting the Most out of Your Fly Fishing Set Up

(154) The Bottom’s Up in Fishing

(155) Fish Where They’re Biting

(156) Three Standard Walleye Presentations

(157) Two Early Season Presentations for Pothole Trout

(158) Tackle Tips for Catch and Release Fishing

(159) Keeping Your Head Above Water

(160) HEALTHY BAIT CATCHES FISH!

(161) Beginner Baitcasting Tips