Cold and Brutal: Ice Fishing Tips

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Jason Reid

All three wire indicators bouncing almost simultaneously at the end of our jig poles had my friend Ben and me on edge.  Staring at three desolate holes in the ice, we knew perch were tasting our minnows.   With one solid bite, my left hand reacted on instincts, grabbing the small rod and reeling to the surface a respectable 13 inch jack perch.    While brief stunned expressions of disbelief were exchanged between Ben and me, please understand, this was a hard earned fish.  But it was what we had nearly frozen ourselves and drove half way across the state to find.

Grumpy old men Drawn to the ice by the allure of reports of people hammering giant jack perch on the frozen lakes in the surrounding areas, I should have checked my fantasies at the shore.  Yes, ice fishing can reveal incredible numbers of fish, however, while this polar vortex has most of the country trapped under an arctic spell, my luck was a warm as the air.  But alas, I am stubborn and can never turn down an adventure.  Having done minimal ice fishing in my life, I could feel the ice calling my name.

Austen and big ice perch 4 jimmy Houston

Saturday the winds on Honeyoe Lake were brutal enough to have flown a sail boat.  Peering out from the little windows in Ben’s shanty, I felt sorry for the guys next to us in lawn chairs.  At least the shanty provided wind protection.  For seven hours we stared into the ice, hoping for a bite. And as I was caught in my own thoughts I realized, what a brutal existence ice fishing is.

Don’t get me wrong though, it was a total blast. Throw in a good mix of snacks and conversation, time actually went by quickly.  Better to have a line through the ice than be bored in my dorm room.   I have a total understanding now for what made the Grumpy Old Men so grumpy.

I did learn a few things:

Use smaller minnows.  The minnows we bought from the bait shop guy were far to large for perch.  They were only tasting the minnows and not actually taking a big bite.  Once we began cutting the minnows into smaller pieces, we began hooking a few fish.

Staying warm. As I said, ice fishing can be a brutal existence.   If you think you have enough layers on, put on another layer when it is cold and windy.

Proper Hat; Heat escapes through your head.  Make sure you have or invest in head-gear with thick enough insulation to keep your body warm.  I love my Mad Bomber hat for this reason.

Food and water: Bring plenty.  The wind and cold sap your body more than you realize.  Staying hydrated can make a difference in how long you last.  Keep water in thermoses to keep water in liquid form.

Bundle up and fish hard!

3 holes