When The Ice Is Safe
I love to ice fish. I almost like it better than warm weather fishing. It was not something I ever really gave a thought to, but when you want to be with someone you try to do the things they love. So off to the ice I went because I was dating my future husband and wanted to be with him no matter what. And no matter what is what I got the day he asked me to go Ice Fishing with him. What an adventure that was. Of course my first question was " How safe is this ice". Well one of the first things you look at is how many other people are on the ice. If you see people out there then you can assume that the ice is safe. Most ice fishermen are pretty aware of the thickness of the ice and if its safe. The general rule of thumb is 4 inches is safe ice. But again you must be aware of the conditions of the particular lake that you want to ice fish on. If the lake has a stream or creek running into it the area around that stream may not be as safe as the middle of the lake. This is because moving water freezes more slowly than non moving water. Lakes are much more safe than a river because of that moving water. I have seen many rivers freeze up in the winter but I would never walk on them because of that moving water factor. If you go to a lake after the ice has come in and no one is on the lake ice fishing,from shore you can cut a hole in the ice using an Ice Fishing Auger and measure the ice. A lot of the lakes in my area are managed by the Forest Preserve District and they have employees that check the ice on a regular basis and then post signs as to if you may now safely enter the ice to fish. Check the lakes and the management of the lake to see what regulations they have for that particular lake. Remember safety is the most important issue when going ice fishing. I have been on many lakes ice fishing and the ice is making all kinds of sounds. Cracking sounds is how I describe it. This freaked me out the first time I heard it, and I was more than ready to get off that ice. But, when ice makes thoses sounds it means the ice is freezing not thawing. Thawing ice doesn't make any sound. So if you hear these sounds don't be alarmed, it just means the ice is becoming even safer than it presently is. In my part of the country we generally get ice that is between 6 and 10 inches thick. Plenty thick enough to fish. In the northern part of the country the ice get very very thick. Thick enough to drive your car out onto the lake to the area you wish to fish. Just always make sure the ice is thick enough for you to fish and check with management as to if you are allowed to ice fish it or not. And watch for those signs they post so you know exactly what is allowed. And happy fishing.
Ice Fishing Equipment
Ice Fishing Equipment is different than warm weather fishing equipment. With ice fishing you don't cast as you would in water. Most ice fishing holes are on average between 4 and 6 inches big. So you must have a hole in the ice to be able to reach the fish. This is accomplished using an ice auger. There are 2 basic types of ice augers. The auger most commonly used in the northern states where the ice gets well over 12 inches thick is called a power auger. Basically this is an auger with a motor on top much like a lawn mower engine. You pull a cord, the engine starts and turns the blades into the ice making a hole. This auger is nice when you are going to be making many many holes as its less work than using a hand auger. Power augers are much more expensive than hand augers, typically costing between $350 and $500 dollars. A hand auger is just like a power auger except there is no motor. You power the blades into the ice using your own power by turning and pushing down on the auger. Make sure your blades are sharp as this will help the auger cut the hole much quicker. Hand augers typically cost between $50 to $80 dollars. So now you have your hole drilled its time to fish. There are 3 types of ice fishing rods. My favorite is a very inexpensive rod and reel that you don't crank to bring in the fish. Decided how deep you want to fish then pull out that much line and tighten the reel. Usually there is a wire tip on these reels that will wiggle or bend down when a fish is on the hook. You then pull up the line hand over hand to bring in the fish. This is my favorite way to ice fish because when the line is in your hands you can really feel the fish. Another rod is just like a warm weather fishing rod with a crank reel but the rod is generally much shorter than usual. Some people like to put a very small bobber on these rods and of course when the bobber goes down you have a fish. The last type of ice fishing rod is really not a rod at all. Its called a tip-up. This apparatus is a device that fits over the hole with a reel on it. You set the line how deep you want it and set the flag. When a fish takes the bait the flag goes up letting the ice fisherman know a fish is on. The fish at this point can take line while the fisherman is getting back to the tip-up. The tip-up is great because you can go from hole to hole tending other rods, and still know when you have a fish on. The other 2 types of fishing poles have to be tended all the time in order for you to know you have a fish on. The are also many types of ice fishing jigs or you can just use a plain hook. Bait is usually some type of small larvae type worms and some people use earthworms as well. Other equipment I like to use is an Ice Fishing Shelter. This is usually a 1 or 2 man tent that you set on the ice over your holes and you can get inside to get out of the wind. We also use a small heater to warm the shelter up. Remember that you must have ventilation so that you don's asphyxiate from the fumes. A thermos of hot coffee or hot chocolate is also a wonderful thing to have on the ice with you. If you are a fisherman or even if your not its a great winter sport. Give it a try sometime, you might find you like it just like I did.
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