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Ice fishing tips for Beginners
Did you hear the one about the guy who went ice fishing and came back with 50 lbs. of ice? Well, if you found yourself here your at least one step ahead of this fella, that is unless you intended to bring home some ice. Ice fishing is actually a very simple sport but must be practiced with some caution. WHAT you say? Seriously before you set out to catch any fish on "hard" water there a couple of things you should be concerned about. Firstly, make sure you are equipped with the proper attire. Setting out from home on a nice sunny day is fine but once you approach your destination things may have drastically changed or may change without notice.
This would also be a good time to check the weather channel or newspaper for the up to date weather forecast. Secondly, remember to check the ice conditions wherever you go, there are local ice hut operators or locals who are willing to help make your trip safe. A friend of mine told me once, "You can always take it off, but its pretty hard to put it on if you haven't got it!" My advice, purchase a good floatation suit. They are warm and if you happen to break thru the ice it will probably save your life. A warm dry set of gloves, preferably without fingers is a must.
This way all the fingers share the warmth. A full face balaclava is also required as well as sunglasses. A scarf can help but be cautionary of the vehicle you are using to get you out to your favorite spot. You don't want to have it get tangled up in a chain or track. Several layers of clothes are a benefit just for the luxury of taking them off. Another good idea is to have a fishing buddy. They are not only there to enjoy the day with you and help make the fishing story a real tale but if an emergency arises they are the only support you've got. We still have a few small things to do before setting out. Make sure your transportation is trustworthy, a general maintenance check will do, tell someone where your going and how long you expect to be gone and last but not least, a simple thing like a compass, so you don't get lost. Okay, are we having fun yet.
Now that we have got all the scary stuff done, its time to leave, right . WRONG ! You forgot the gear. A general rule of thumb regarding gear is to choose the equipment you will need to match the fish you are seeking (e. the larger the fish, the heavier the tackle). Of course you won't be able to get to them if you don't have a hole. So depending on the ice and your wallet or both, you are going to need an ice spud or hand\gas auger. You can purchase both but if you just happen to have a friend that welds you can get him to make the spud up for you out of a 6' x 2" piece of flat steel and round bar. Don't forget to weld a "T" on the top and grind the flat bar down to a chisel point.
If you are in good shape and have the time the hand auger is great but if you intend to fish several spots and don't want to tire yourself out making holes get a gas auger. Look for an auger with at least a 6" cut just so you can get the big ones thru the hole. Next, you'll need an ice skimmer. I suggest the aluminum one because if you are in a hut with a stove just warm it up a little and touch it to the hole and voila . instant skim! Also, tie a light chain or rope on it just in case it falls down the hole. Well, your almost there. You can't catch anything without some type of jigging rod. They come in all types, sizes and styles but look for one with which you will be comfortable with. This may take a few outings to discover, so see if you have a buddy who will lend you his or hers. Another general rule of thumb, a light rod for perch and panfish using 2 to 4 lb.
test, medium action for trout, walleye, whitefish, etc. and 6 to 10 lb. test. If you are energetic an have a second hole you can also use a tip-up. They range in price from several dollars to around twenty-five bucks. Well, this should get you started. The rest you can learn from patience and experience. Good Luck and Good Fishing! P.
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