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Ice fishing basics for ice fishing equipment

Ice fishing is a lot of fun and totally different than non ice fishing. First, it's cold, you can't use a boat and you can't fish from shore. That all seems reasonable to us who live up North where you can ice fish but to people from the South it's not anything they even have a clue about.

This will be a pretty basic article on ice fishing just so everyone is at the same spot when I write the next ice fishing article. It's not going to be comprehensive, just the basics of fishing in the winter time, on the ice.

What do you need for ice fishing equipment? That depends on how much you are going to be going fishing and if it's important to catch fish. Obviously there are a few things you can't do without.




You need something to make a hole in the ice. 8 inches is a good size but I prefer a 10 inch hole for bigger fish and more room because my fish finder also has to go down the same hole. You can get a power auger, which I recommend, a hand auger, lol, lots of work there, or even a bar to chop a hole in the ice. A hand auger is easier than chopping a hole but a power auger is the best.

Now you have a hole in the ice. You can fish with your summer time rods if you want to but they aren't really suited for ice fishing from inside any kind of ice fishing shacks. Simply to long for ease of use. However if you are going to be staying outside they'll work just fine.

I'd recommend getting a couple of ice fishing rods just for the winter fishing. They don't cost much and they will make your enjoyment of the sport that much more fun. I use my summer fishing reels on my winter poles.

A lot of winter fishing is done with jigs, some with live bait and some with larva or wax worms, etc. Ask at your local bait shop what the fish are biting on and then get whatever they recommend. Personally I use small crappie minnows and a jig or just the minnow head and a jig.

I'll also use a slip bobber to keep my jig where I want it. Most of the time just a few inches off the bottom but sometimes as much as 3 feet to 10 feet from bottom depending on water depth and what my fish finder is showing me.

So far you have a hole, rods, jigs and bait. Now you need something to sit on. You can use a five gallon bucket but they get uncomfortable really fast. Nice to haul your equipment in but tough to sit on for long. I have a couple of what used to be ice fishing chairs. Lol, you guessed it, just a couple of cheap folding chairs from walmart. Much more comfortable tho.

As I mostly fish for big northerns in the winter, at least in South Dakota and Southern Minnesota, I mostly just drive my truck out on the ice where I want to fish, drill the holes and drop the lines down the holes. Then I sit in the truck and wait for a bite. Nice, warm and comfortable. Also highly portable.

You can buy portable ice fishing shelter or you can make your own. There are plenty of plans around. When I fished Mille Lacs regularly I had a very large permanent house for winter fishing. Not at all portable in an easy way. At the very least you needed a pickup to pull it to the next spot. It was 8x14 feet and heavy.

Next week I'll get more in depth about winter fishing and ice. You have the basics and can go catch fish. However you look at it these are the basics. Your going to be cold, tired and hungry when you leave the lake but you did get to fish and hopefully caught a few.

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