Thursday, February 17, 2011

Be Prepared And Get Outfitted For Your First Ice Fishing Trip


By Bill Miller

Going fishing on a frozen body of water is Winter activity that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of age. It's relatively inexpensive to get and with knowledge of where to find a place to fish, a beginning fisherman can be expected to catch some fish their first trip onto the ice.

How do you go about getting started? And more importantly, how is a Beginner suppose to know what they need to get out on the ice? Plus, in this day and age, when families are watching their budget, how much will it cost?

This is why I wrote this collection of basic ice fishing gear that a Newbie will need to get started. The big surprise is that for less than a hundred bucks, you should be able to get all the fishing equipment that a Greenhorn will need to get started fishing on the hard water.

Before you can even get a hook wet, you'll have to figure out how to get a hole in the ice. Enter the ice auger. For Panfish, you'll need a five to six inch auger. For larger species such as Pike and Walley, you'll want to get an eight to ten inch ice auger. If you really want to go cheap and don't mind a little hard work, get the manual ice auger, otherwise you might want to spend a little extra and get a power auger.

Next on the list will be your rod and reel. Some ice fishermen use what they call a tip up, others use short rods and reels. Others use a combination of both. If you really want to increase the chances of bringing home fish, drill multiple holes in the ice and use tip ups while fishing at one with a rod and reel.

Don't overlook the line you'll be using to catch fish. Regular fishing line will become brittle and break easily when fishing through a hole in the ice. Look for fishing line that is designed specifically for ice fishing. There are many on the market or you can order it through catalog retailers such as Cabela's.

Now you need something to catch the fish. For panfish like Crappie, Bluegill and Yellow Perch, I like to use mealworms, spikes or nightcrawlers. I also carry along an assortment of ice fishing jigs and spoons. For the bigger fish such as Pike and Bass, I like minnows or tear drop jigs and spoons as these fish can be aggressive. It's not a bad idea to check with local fishermen to see what they like to use on a specific body of water to catch fish through the ice. This will save you a lot of trial and error in the beginning.

Make certain to buy something to sit on. Most seasoned ice fishermen use an ordinary five gallon bucket. A select few will even bring lawn chairs out on the ice, but a 5 gallon bucket will also help you haul your gear to and from your hot spot.

And that is all you really need to get started ice fishing. It's a simple Sport that doesn't require a huge output of cash to be successful. Just follow the regulations for your area and become familiar with safety rules of ice fishing before leaving to get out on the ice. Have fun and don't be afraid of being sociable on the ice. You might be surprised to find out that ice fishermen like to hang out and shoot the breeze a little. Just don't crowd other fishermen when fishing!


Featured Winter Activity Suggestion from She's So Fly:

Stay and Ice Fish
Waterfront cottage rentals are not always seasonal - some are available during the winter

View from the "Gray Goose".  A waterfront home available for rent for 2 or more days during the winter season to ice fish in Newaygo Michigan.  You can view more photos and rent rates at or


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