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Sk8man

List of ice fishing tidbits/tips for newbies?

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I'm anxiously awaiting another season on the ice and thought that it might be an appropriate time to see if others here are willing to share any tips or helpful information they have discovered over the years to help out folks who might be interested but inexperienced to speed up the learning curve a bit. I'm not talking about divulging your life long closely held spots or derby tactics or anything :lol:  just some helpful hints: I'll start it off with these as examples: (they can be specific fishing tactics, safety tips, things you have discovered to be comfortable etc.)

 

1.  Wait until there is good hard ice at least 3 inches thick before going out there and don't go alone. Check thickness along the way at intervals. Remember: the most dangerous ice is not necessarily the hard clear stuff that may spook you or is slippery it is snow covered ice where you can't detect what is beneath you (gas pockets, faults, thin ice spots or other defects.

 

2.  Take a "spud" or "ice chisel" with you besides having your auger and use it to "test" the ice.

 

3.  Tape up some soft material (e.g. short section of swimming noodle) to the mid part of the rope of your sled for hand comfort

 

4.  Carry a flashlight of some sort (inexpensive LED headlamp) for coming back in in the dark and it can double for "charging up" glow jigs as well. If using the headlamp get one that uses triple A batteries rather than the often hard to find disc type.

 

5.  Carry "ice picks" on a cord and easily accessible  in case of emergency (I also usually carry a boat seat cushion with a rope attached as well in my sled)

 

6.  A propane or gas heater can be a welcome addition to your day :)  as well as good warm gloves and heavily insulated boots

 

7.  Dress in layers (plenty of them) to stay comfortable. You can always shed things if you get too warm and you don't want to start sweating because you'll be chilled.

 

8.  Don't bring any more items than you'll actually need (I'm VERY guilty of this) because the trip out and back will seem MUCH longer as a result

 

9.  Buy a good auger (whether power, hand, or battery powered drill type) and keep the blades sharp. Keep the cover over the blades when not in use because it keeps them sharp as well as protecting you from disaster.

 

10. Drill a bunch of holes when you first get to your spot whiie you are "fresh" and also so that you'll allow things to calm down (noise etc.) and any fish that were "spooked" may return to the area.

 

11.  If you are "prospecting"  or don't have a depth finder) drill some holes in an "X'" shape with holes spread out  20-30 ft from each other starting from shoreward  working outward. That will allow you to determine a  depth "range",  give an idea of the "slope" of things as well as possible bottom characteristics (e.g. mud, weeds, gravel) and by jigging in the holes you may be able to see the direction of any fish action for further consideration.

 

12.  Assess wind direction when you are at your spot and face your shelter (if you use one or your back if you just sit on a bucket) away from the oncoming wind whenever possible

 

13.  Buy (inexpensive) hand warmers to put in your mits or gloves. They last for many hours

 

14.   For your main jigging hole to help keep it from freezing  over pour a little coffee or other hot liquid in it.

 

15 To keep bait alive and unfrozen I keep mine in a small Little Oscar cooler that has a lid that locks down. It is relatively small but holds a lot of fathead minnows and it is insulated so it can take the real cold

 

16.  Bring a tape measure with you for game fish in case you get lucky.

 

17. If fishing from an ice shelter (Clam Frabill, Eskimo etc.) anchor it and help keep the wind out by placing  snow around the bottom of it (skirt) "sealing it off"

 

18.  White LED  battery powered Xmas lights strung on the supports or taped to the inside work well for lighting when needed.

 

19. Don't try to change jigs right over your hole :)  or open a box of hundreds of jigs balancing it on your knee in the snow.....and don't ask how I know this :lol:

 

20.  Consider buying a hand held depth finder (one of my handiest purchases over the years) which saves a lot of time especially in unfamiliar places. It will allow you in clear (bubble free) ice to get depth readings as you go along and to spot bottom drop offs/contours. See pic.

 

21.  Early ice and late ice are often the most dangerous times out there. Pay particular attention to areas where "bubblers" are used near docks where the ice may be undercut many yards away from the action (speaking from personal experience).

post-145411-0-36644600-1418393552_thumb.jpg

Edited by Sk8man

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Great tips Les. We used to screw and tape clothes-pins to our tilts so they protruded down below the tilt and pinch the line between the pinchers of the clothes-pins to allow us to fish huge bait for pike. Also black absorbs light and helps keep the holes a bit clearer.

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i haved found building slush mounds around your holes retards the holes from freezing by keeping the cold wind off the water it also helps when useing tipdowns on really windy days keeping the rod from tipping from the wind.

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if your going to sit on your bait bucket make sure you have a lid that doesnt seal prying the lid off with cold fingers everytime you need  bait gets old quick.

 

advice I give the kids repeatedly everytime watch where you put your feet stepping in holes sucks

 

if your fishing tip ups as your primary make sure to set up your shelter or yourself so that you can easily see them without looking into the wind. I have a tendancy to not line them up to my windows and that is no good.  

 

hand carry your bait bucket over the snow bank or down the hill to the ice.  spilling on the way out ruins a day.  

 

bring a drink producing heat sucks a lot of moisture out of your body and you can get dehydrated without knowing it.

 

 

second vote for fish with a partner.  even on thick ice problems happen cracks and holes form and get covered in snow gas pockets and soft spots are not always visable having someone to help or at least call for help could save your life

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I'm anxiously awaiting another season on the ice and thought that it might be an appropriate time to see if others here are willing to share any tips or helpful information they have discovered over the years to help out folks who might be interested but inexperienced to speed up the learning curve a bit. I'm not talking about divulging your life long closely held spots or derby tactics or anything :lol:  just some helpful hints: I'll start it off with these as examples: (they can be specific fishing tactics, safety tips, things you have discovered to be comfortable etc.)

 

1.  Wait until there is good hard ice at least 3 inches thick before going out there and don't go alone. Check thickness along the way at intervals.

 

2.  Take a "spud" or "ice chisel" with you besides having your auger and use it to "test" the ice.

 

3.  Tape up some soft material (e.g. short section of swimming noodle) to the mid part of the rope of your sled for hand comfort

 

4.  Carry a flashlight of some sort for coming back in in the dark.

 

5.  Carry "ice picks" on a cord and easily accessible  in case of emergency (I also usually carry a boat seat cushion with a rope attached as well in my sled)

 

6.  A propane or gas heater can be a welcome addition to your day :)  as well as good warm gloves and heavily insulated boots

 

7.  Dress in layers (plenty of them) to stay comfortable. You can always shed things if you get too warm and you don't want to start sweating because you'll be chilled.

 

8.  Don't bring any more items than you'll actually need (I'm VERY guilty of this) because the trip out and back will seem MUCH longer as a result

 

9.  Buy a good auger (whether power, hand, or battery powered drill type) and keep the blades sharp. Keep the cover over the blades when not in use because it keeps them sharp as well as protecting you from disaster.

 

10. Drill a bunch of holes when you first get to your spot whiie you are "fresh" and also so that you'll allow things to calm down (noise etc.) and any fish that were "spooked" may return to the area.

 

11.  If you are "prospecting"  or don't have a depth finder) drill some holes in an "X'" shape with holes spread out  20-30 ft from each other starting from shoreward  working outward. That will allow you to determine a  depth "range",  give an idea of the "slope" of things as well as possible bottom characteristics (e.g. mud, weeds, gravel) and by jigging in the holes you may be able to see the direction of any fish action for further consideration.

 

12.  Assess wind direction when you are at your spot and face your shelter (if you use one or your back if you just sit on a bucket) away from the oncoming wind whenever possible

 

13.  Buy (inexpensive) hand warmers to put in your mits or gloves. They last for many hours

 

14.   For your main jigging hole to help keep it from freezing  over pour a little coffee or other hot liquid in it.

 

15 To keep bait alive and unfrozen I keep mine in a small Little Oscar cooler that has a lid that locks down. It is relatively small but holds a lot of fathead minnows and it is insulated so it can take the real cold

I can't believe Gator has not chimed in busting my chops about #8! 

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I will chime in Gambler.  Talk about a guy that brings the kitchen sink!

Excellent points Sk8. I would add to get off the ice as soon as you see the weather getting bad. Very easy to get dissoriented out there in a snow squall. Make sure you have a compass or gps handy.

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Oh geez...not only that but if you bring Ray along don't forget your hip boots for the BS or an extra comb so he can comb the hair on his back when he takes off some layers :lol: A big beach umbrella also helps him to adjust to conditions :)

Edited by Sk8man

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Great topic. Clearly a lot of experience here..... Lots of great info and advice.

110% agree- fish with a partner..... If u must fish alone tell someone where you are and when you will be off the ice.

Decent creepers are a worthwhile investment.

Extra gloves, hat, and sox are easy to carry and can be a life saver when its nasty(for you or a buddy).

Can you have too many sounders?!

Be safe. Be ethical. Have fun!

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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I'm hoping more guys come the the fore here as I have talked with some of you out on the ice and others on the phone and I'm confident that you have great stuff to offer..... It would be nice to have a little resource here for folks to refer to :)

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My B-i-L fell through the ice walking to his favorite spot. He was lucky and credits his one piece snowmobile suit for bobbing him right back out and onto the ice. No picks! He lost everything including a big Jiffy. He's lucky he's alive, don't take any chances out there. As a side note, a friend dove down and found the Jiffy in 15' of water the following summer. The rope was rotted but when replaced, the thing started up on the second pull.

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I've been through myself twice and one of the times it was in 5 1/2 ft of water and I am 6 ft tall and I was all alone on the lake at 6:45 AM (that is the reason for my, comment in number 1). My next action after that time was to buy suits that float for myself and my son (Arctic Armor) and we both got to try them out in 3 ft of water coming back in near dark at Honeoye a couple years ago (late season)

Edited by Sk8man

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Those suits are cheap money if u spend any time on the ice. Flotation should be required in all ice fishing gear. Too many stories of close calls!

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United

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You are very right EsoxAC3.  At the very least some sort of life jacket or floatable device should be carried with people out there. It is interesting that people are required to wear life jackets from Nov-April in boats but not out on the ice. I must also say however I'm not a big fan of governmental requirements/intervention in our lives but with some things you can't always depend on people to just use good common sense and this appears to be one of them. People (including me) become complacent about that stuff and they think it is only "the other" guy that it happens to ....until IT IS YOU and that is a rude awakening. The most surprising thing to me was that after many many years on the ice (starting at about 8 yrs old) that I thought there would be some warning (cracking sounds etc.) but it was just instantaneous and like dropping into a "slush hole". Worst of all is the realization that your legs and arms start going numb in seconds not minutes and as soon as you are out of the water hypothermia starts setting in and even walking is difficult. I had on a snowmobile suit and heavy boots at the time and it felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. My left side was still bruised from the edge of the ice a month afterward. If it had been even a foot or two deeper I would have been "history". 2004....not one of my best years :lol:

Edited by Sk8man

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On early ice I have worn a life preserver out onto the ice, I like the auto inflate ones but it is key to wear it on the outside of your clothing.

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Yes Chas. I'm not sure about the NEW ones but i had one that was activated by water and was always concerned about it inflating from rain or wet snow after a friend had one inflate accidentally while fishing in a boat when it got wet :lol:

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Always appreciate Sk8man sharing wisdom. Was just on another forum where guys bashing someone for asking simple ice fishing question. Sk8man would not have just answered the question, but given another 10 lines of good advice. Thanks for the post about life jacket. I usually do not go out until plenty of ice, but even then there are always flaws, cracks etc.

Would like to add one to the list!

Take a kid out as fishing buddy. Do not see enough of them out there.

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Lowes sells an inexpensive small ultraviolet flashlight. This works better to "charge" glow in the dark jigs than a regular led light. Also works well in the dark to see where your dog peed on the carpet. Don't ask me how in know.

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How about pick up after yourself is my 1st tip. Nothing burns my a$$ than seeing the ice filled with cig's/beer cans/ and other garbage

2nd tip try a clove a garlic in your bait bucket.....can't say it works 100% of the time but seems to do better on slow and heavy pressured days

Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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Something to try when things are slow jigging -

 

1.   Tie a bright colored tiny (#12 hook) dry fly about 8-10 inches up from the jig with a single spike or waxie covering the tip of the hook

 

2.   Make up some #8 long shank gold Mustad Aberdeen hooks with a bit of RED yarn wrapped around the  hook shaft and glued with a spot of glue and fill the remaining exposed part of the hook so the tip doesn't show with spikes or waxies or a short section of nightcrawler and tie it about 8-10 inches up from your main jig. Sometimes it can be tied to a loop in the mainline to "dangle" and sway. The good thing about it is that even if you lose your bait fish will sometimes still hit just the yarn and hook.

 

 

You do have to be careful when the fish gets up towards the top of the hole if hooked on the main jig so as not to snag up on the edge of the ice with the fly or hook ahead of it.

Edited by Sk8man

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Johnny made a very good point .....the ice picks can't be in a pocket or somewhere else or you will never be able to use them (from experience)

 

Here is what they look like for anyone not familiar with them

 

These happens to be some that I bought but for many years I had a pair that I made by cutting off an old broomstick into 4 or 5 inch sections and pounding a large spike into the ends and sawing off the head and then filing the point till sharp and using a section of parachute cord strung in holes drilled in the opposite ends of the "handles". They need to be worn around the neck as Johnny mentioned for easy access during an emergency. I use old wine or champagne corks to cover the points of the picks

post-145411-0-21548400-1419960898_thumb.jpg

Edited by Sk8man

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Ice auger consideration:

 

If you are into exercise and fitness a manual 7-8 inch auger is the way to go ....burn a bunch of calories :lol:

 

For the rest of us "dinosaurs" after a few thousand holes it was time for other options....

 

Power  gas augers -  great for thick ice conditions (over 12 inches) but very noisy (spooking fish), potential for leaking gas and fumes in your vehicle (don't ask how I know), and somewhat heavy and bulky to carry with you. If you fish up north a lot probably worth considering. I gave mine away.

 

Power electric augers - jury is still out on them....some recent improvements but again fairly heavy and "clunky" to deal with. No gas to mess with, no fumes, less noise. rechargeable batteries with decent charge times and quieter than gas augers.

 

Electric Drill conversion kit approach -  my favorite (Lithium Ion) and here is why:  Very light weight and compact, no gas cans and oil etc. to mess with, doubles as a great drill in the warmer months, very short charge times, and great power (torque) for drilling many holes without changing batteries. An extra battery can be carried in your jacket pocket to keep it warm but I've drilled 50 plus holes in 6-8 inch ice without need for a second battery. The key thing to success is selecting the right drill for the job.

 

After trying out several different battery powered 1/2 inch drills (Ryobi, Makita, DeWalt, Black and Decker (about the same as DeWalt but maybe not as durable) and Sears.

I tried the 18 volt Lithium Ion 1/2 inch Bosch Hammer drill/driver and wow! It blew the others away big time... It has both  high speed settings and  high torque settings with variable strength settings  from 1 -24. You need to use torque for this application. It is a virtual animal in terms of torque and could almost pull you into the hole if not careful :) . For the bottom part of the auger I used a 7 inch Lazer manual auger with the handle section removed. There are now a number of conversion kits available but I went with the only one I knew about at the time (6 years ago) the Icemaster because it also has a safety cord to prevent loss of the bottom half auger part if somehow the drill chuck were to loosen (never so far). I think it is by far one of the best investments I've ever made (drill) See pic:

post-145411-0-35257000-1420043649_thumb.jpg

Edited by Sk8man

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I think the drill was $300. I already had the manual auger which I think was $89 when I bought it back in the 90's (and I think they haven't changed prices much since). The conversion kit was about $30 but the Runnings store here in Canandaigua has one for about $15 but there is no "safety" attachment with it. Here is what it looks like:

 

I also included the older one I use for comparison.

 

 

Tip: The drill is critical to me but I see guys also using the 1/2 inch DeWalt out there. Sometimes you can pickup a used a manual 7 or 8 inch auger cheap on here or elsewhere (e.g. Ebay or Craigs List)

post-145411-0-63199500-1420045204_thumb.jpg

post-145411-0-70079700-1420045228_thumb.jpg

Edited by Sk8man

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