3 Tips For Successful Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is simply a form of fishing where you attempt to catch a fish through a hole in the ice of a lake, pond, or river. However, ice fishing is also one of the most dangerous ways to fish that there is, and in most circumstances should only be done by either a professional or someone with much experience.
However, in a winter survival situation, ice fishing may be your only option for finding food. Winter time is especially brutal when it comes to survival because not only do you have to contend with high winds and freezing temperatures, most or all of the vegetation that you would have otherwise foraged will not be available.
The best guide for ice fishing
As a result, you’ll be forced to hunt or trap animals in order to get food, and with much of your usual prey hibernating during this time as well, ice fishing may end up being the only viable way of finding food before you make it out.
There are a few guidelines that you will want to closely follow when ice fishing. The first guideline is to never walk on ice that is less than four inches thick. Yes, professional ice fishermen (and women) do fish on ice that is two to three inches thick. However, you don’t want to run the risk of falling through the ice in a survival scenario where you’re stranded in the wilderness and help is miles away. Such a situation would most certainly be fatal.
Another guideline to follow is not ice fish right next to the shoreline. Not only will there be less fish here than there will be in larger depths, but the ice will be weaker here as well, and you run a greater risk of falling through.
For the rest of this article, we’ll discuss some tips you can follow to increase your odds of making a catch. These tips are written assuming that you have the necessary equipment to fish (or otherwise have created your makeshift equipment out of natural resources and other items you have) and have also cut a hole into the ice to begin fishing:
TIP #1 – UNDERSTAND THAT FISH HAVE SENSES
One of the most important tips to follow that will increase your chances of making a catch is to remember that fish have senses. Once you understand this, you’ll be more careful and deliberate in how you fish.
For example, did you know that fish have color vision? As long as the water isn’t too dirty, they will be able to see just fine… and that also means that they may be able to see you through the ice.
Should this occur, chances are good they won’t take your bait out of fear. This is why you must remain as motionless and as silent as possible while holding your line.
Another important sense that fish possess is the ability to detect movement in the water through their sense of touch. If there are any disturbances in the water whatsoever, the fish will perceive it as danger and swim away. This is another reason to be as still and patient as possible when ice fishing.
But while knowing that fish have strong senses can limit what you can do during ice fishing, you can also use this knowledge to your advantage. For example, fish will use that exact same sense of touch in order to find food. We’ll expand on how you can use this as an advantage in our third and final ice fishing tip.
TIP #2 – KNOW WHERE TO FIND FISH
If you think you can just walk out into a frozen pond, drill a hole, and begin ice fishing and that you’ll be frying a fish over the fire in no time, you’re solely mistaken. Ice fishing still requires much concentration and knowledge of where to fish, perhaps even more so than a normal fishing event. With this knowledge, you can choose a more strategic area to fish.
For example, in shallower lakes and ponds in general fish will almost always move towards the less deep areas of the river. This is because there is limited oxygen in the deeper parts of shallow water bodies.
At the same time, in lakes that are deep, there is no such oxygen issue. As a result, the fish will be more likely found in the center of the lake, where it’s also warmer.
With this knowledge, you should therefore, know where to drill your hole. For example, if you know that the pond you’re fishing on is shallow, drill your hole more towards the shoreline (though not too close where the ice is weaker). If your lake is deep, drill your hole more in the center where it’s deeper.
Something else important to know about ice fishing is that fish will always be less active in the winter time, and as a result they are more difficult to catch. Your greatest chances of making a catch will be after sun up and before sundown rather than the middle of the day. Yes, these will be the coldest times to fish unfortunately, but they will also give you your highest chance of success.
TIP #3 – DISTURB THE BOTTOM
In Tip #1, we mentioned how fish use their sense of touch to find food by detective movement in the water. With this in mind, it’s perfectly possible to attract a fish to your bait that is several hundred feet away.
To do this, you’ll need a long line that can reach the bottom of the lake. Lower the line all the way to the bottom until the bait is touching the floor. Then, bounce the bait up and down so that it creates a cloud of dirt and sends ripples in the water.
Fish that are away will detect this movement and believe it’s prey. They’ll then swim in the direction of your bait and hopefully make a bite.
Overall, ice fishing is one of the least risk free ways to fish that there are, but it’s also one of your best chances of finding food in a winter survival situation. Follow the tips you have learned in this article to be safe and increase your odds of making a successful catch.