by Bob Jensen
It’s not here, but it’s near. Ice-fishing that is. It’s November. Many hunting seasons are in full swing. Those are an ice-anglers reminders that it’s time to start thinking about ice-fishing. Depending on Mother Nature, we could be ice-fishing in just a couple of weeks in the northern states. Now is the time when we should be getting ready to go ice-fishing. If you get ready now, you’ll be able to get out on the ice as soon as it’s safe. Following are some of the things you can do now to increase your chances for a productive experience on your first ice-fishing trip of the season.
When you go ice-fishing, you’ve got to put some holes in the ice. Whether you use a power auger or a hand-operated auger, you need sharp blades. Sharp blades are important whether the ice is three inches thick or three feet thick. Sharp blades get through the ice faster, so you make less noise. Noise can spook shallow water fish, so the less noise you make, the less the fish will be spooked and the more you’ll catch. Make sure the blades on your auger are sharp before it’s time to go ice-fishing.
If you have a power auger, start it and let it run a bit. We just want to make sure it’s in good working condition before you need to put it to use.
Also make sure the battery on your sonar unit is charged. Depth-finders have become a super-important tool for ice-fishing success. They not only show depth, they reveal if there are fish under your hole, and they show how those fish are reacting to your bait. If they come in and look at your bait, but don’t eat it, you need to do something different. You need to go to a different jigging action or a different lure size or color or something. Depth-finders are very, very important: make sure yours is ready when it’s time to get on the ice.
Spool up with fresh line. The edges of ice holes can be hard on line, so you want fresh, strong line on that first trip and every trip. In just a short time, Bionic Ice Fishing Line has been proven a reliable, easy to handle line that’s a great value. If you prefer a no-stretch line for deeper water, take a look at Bionic Ice Braid. This stuff is sensitive and provides great hook-sets. Make sure you start the ice-fishing season with fresh line.
If you’re in the market for a new ice-fishing rod/reel, there’s something pretty new out there. Frabill has created what they call “Straight Line” reels. They’re like a fly reel, so the line comes off the reel in a straight line, unlike a spinning reel where the line comes off in loops. This makes the line more manageable, and also allows lighter lines to be used more effectively. You really need to check these reels out if you need or want a new ice-fishing set-up this season.
The last thing to consider for your first ice-fishing trip of the season: make sure the ice really is safe enough for you to be on it. Typically, the first guy on the ice is the first guy to fall through. It’s not a bad idea to wear a life-jacket on first ice. Be careful, do the gear preparations we just talked about, and your first ice-fishing trip of the year will be a good one.