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The Keys To Successful Ice Fishing

Aug 17, 2007
With winter quickly approaching, people who live in some of the colder regions of the country are preparing for the ice fishing season. Ice fishing is a charming sport in that people who do it often feel as though they are slipping into character.

As you put on the several layers of warm and dry clothing, you can't help but feel as though you are playing the role of some experienced, seasoned fisherman who is about to conquer the hostile environment of the winter's ice and snow.

Ice fishing is more than just finding a spot on the ice to dig a hole and drop your line through. It's not as easy as it looks. But what can be so difficult about sitting on the ice waiting for the fish to bite? There is more to ice fishing than simply staying warm.

There is a lot of hard work that goes into having a successful day out on the ice - after all, it is called ice fishing for a reason! If you don't catch any fish, what's the point? Everything from making the hole to releasing the fish and all the little things in between require attention to make your day worthwhile.

Once you have arrived at the lake, it is a good idea to make a pattern of the holes that you want to drill. Generally, the experts say to start your first hole about 10 feet from the shore. You should then drill about four to eight holes in a line. You may want to drill several lines of holes that create a grid or fan shape in order to thoroughly cover the structure on which you are working. Be sure to do all of your drilling when you first arrive. As you might imagine, fish are frightened by the noisy drill. Do the drilling once, and they will return to the spot before you know it.

There are two basic approaches to ice fishing. There is the active and the passive approach. The active approach is jigging (done by hand or with a wind-operated tip-up), while the passive approach is done by using a set line. Most ice fishing is accomplished using set lines. A set line is exactly what it sounds like. It is a line sitting still with a minnow on the end waiting for a bite. If you use this method, you are able to fish more than one hole at the same time, as well as do other things, such as cook or make a fire.

A set line will usually be rigged with a single small wire hook tied to the end and a split shot attached six to eighteen inches up the line. A minnow is hooked and the line is sent to within inches of the bottom or into the strike zone. You may also use bear paws to add dropper lines to your main line. This lets you fish at multiple depths. Once you've put the lines down the hole, all you have to do is wait for a hit to set off a flag.

You've caught the fish, now what? When bringing in the line by hand, you have got to make sure the line doesn't go slack. As you are pulling with one hand, grasp the line with the other before letting your first hand go. You are going to also have to judge quickly how green the fish is before it reaches the surface. If it's too active, the fish will be harder to bring up through the hole, and you will run the risk of losing what you have worked so hard to catch. Once you do have the head through the hole, the fish is all yours. Now that you have the basics, what are you waiting for? Get out on the ice and start fishing!
About the Author
John Edmond runs and writes regularly for Living And Camping Outdoors where you can read many more articles on fishing and outdoor living skills. Also go to Well Spoken Audio for a range of entertaining fishing audiobooks and much more.
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