Ice fishing is indeed an exciting winter activity that many people wait the whole year for. However, it can be a little challenging too, especially for those who haven’t tried it before.
If you’re someone who has never done ice fishing before and thinking about experiencing it, then this listicle is for you.
Here we’ve come up with 11 ice fishing tips for beginners which will help you to plan and fish better. Follow these tips and the coming ice fishing trip is going to be great.
Useful Ice Fishing Tips For Beginners
If you don’t know how to fish, then this isn’t a guide for you. This guide is for those who know how to fish but have never done fishing on the ice. So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
1. Take a Friend with You
If you’ve never fished in ice before, then don’t go all alone. Doesn’t matter how many vlogs you’ve seen on the internet, when you’re on ice, preparing to drill a hole, you’ll face a few things that you didn’t know about. And that is where you’ll need an experienced angler.
Try to invite someone who’s done more fishing than you on ice. You’ll see, things are going smoothly. And you’ll thank us!
2. Pick the Right Spot
The second thing a beginner angler should think about is the location where they’d be fishing. Because it plays a major role, the right location significantly increases the chance of hooking more fish.
There are two options, whether you fish in a small lake or a big lake. Both of these have their own pros and cons. If you’re a beginner it’d be wise to fish in the small lakes first.
One advantage of small lakes is, there are fewer deep spots where fish can hide. As a result, big bunches of fish stay open in fewer spots.
That being said, in winter, small lakes have less oxygen, therefore, fishes are less active and interested in eating.
On the other hand, the oxygen level is good in big lakes, but due to the availability of big space, it can be hard for beginners to find fish.
Another factor is, big lakes are often crowded with anglers which alert fishes, that’s another thing that makes ice fishing in big lakes challenging.
3. Check Ice Thickness
It’s very easy to get carried away and step onto a thin layer of ice which can make the fishing trip awful. One mistake that many beginners make is, once they reach a thick ice layer, they don’t check around it.
Thickness can vary in different spots. Therefore, it’s extremely important that you double and triple check the ice thickness.
Let us show you one trick that’ll allow you to guess the thickness by seeing the ice color.
- Check the ice color, if it’s transparent then the ice layer is thick.
- If the ice color is dark or not clear, then chances are high that the layer is thin.
However, this is an initial check to help you decide where you should do the final testing.
There are 3 items you can use to find out the layer thickness –
- Ice auger
- Cordless drill
If you can afford an ice auger, then it would be the wise option. Make sure to invest in a quality one. Pick the best drill for ice auger, otherwise, drilling might become tough.
Drill a hole in the ice layer, and then measure the thickness with tape. You can drill with a cordless drill as well. However, using an ice chisel to make a hole can be difficult. You’ll have to stab hard and keep stabbing until you reach the water.
Once you have got the thickness, that’ll tell you what you can do on that layer.
|Ice layer thickness||What you can do|
|2-Inch or less||Move from there ASAP, it can break anytime|
|4-Inch||Should take the weight of a single person|
|5-inch to 7-inch||Perfect for fishing, walking. Can park a snowmobile or ATV as well|
|8-inch to 12-inch||Can park a car or a medium-sized pickup|
|12-inch to 15-inch||Can take a weight of a medium-sized truck|
4. Choose the Right Ice Fishing Rod & Reel
In ice fishing, the jigging setup works very well, especially for beginners. Choose a small jigging rod with a reel, it’ll make fishing easier.
You can use a tip-up fishing rod as well. With tip-up rods, you won’t have to do much. You just hook the bait and set it into the water. Then you just wait, if the fish eats the bait, the flag on the rod’s tip will tip up.
5. Get a Suitable Fishing Line
Pick ice fishing lines, they’re specially designed for ice fishing therefore, they can withstand extreme cold.
However, if you don’t find an ice fishing line, then choose a line that’s light. When the line is very light, fish don’t see it and that increases the chance of hooking a fish. Fluorocarbon fishing lines work well in ice fishing.
6. Get the Right Bait According to Your Fishing Rod
Doesn’t matter how well-prepared you are, without the right bait, you’ll come back from the fishing trip empty-handed.
There are mainly two types of baits, live baits, and artificial baits.
If you’re a beginner, it’d be best if you start with live baits, since catching fish with live baits is easy. That being said, live bait works best with tip-up fishing rods. However, you can use live bait with a jigging rod as well.
For pan fish and pikes, minnows (live bait) work like a charm. However, you can hook walleye, bass, and some other fish as well with minnows.
If you want to catch big fish, then put bait that is big in size. Apart from minnows, you can also use worms, salmon eggs, and grubs as bait.
On the other hand, there are different kinds of artificial bait or lures. You’ll have to choose these lures depending on the type of fish you’re aiming to catch.
You may read also: Jig Head Size Chart
7. Invest in a Fish Finder
If you don’t want to waste your time and energy, then better pick a good quality fish finder. As the name suggests, the fish finder will show you the spot that has more fish.
Before you drill a hole in the ice, use the fish finder, find an area that has more fish, and then make a hole there. It’ll not only save you time but will also make the fishing trip extremely enjoyable, as you’ll be able to land more fish.
8. Do Some Chumming
Once you’ve selected the spot, drilled the hole, and are all set to drop the bait, do a little bit of chumming. Fish are less active when it’s cold.
And when you’ll do chumming, that will draw attention and will lure them off their hiding space. Chumming will increase your chance of hooking more fish.
9. Focus on Small Fish
Every angler wants to hook big fish so that they can brag about it to their friends. And that’s fine, anglers should aim for it but not at the beginning. If you’re a beginner, then focus on small fish. There is a lot to learn.
Plus, waiting for big fish can be very frustrating and demotivating. You might not be able to land one fish the whole day. Catching big fish requires good experience and patience which a beginner angler lacks.
10. Stick to one technique
There are many fishing techniques and you as a beginner might want to try all of them. That’s a mistake! Stick to one technique, master it, and then shift to another one.
You might see anglers applying different techniques are winning, that’s because they’ve mastered those techniques. It requires time and patience. Trying to learn all at once, will leave you frustrated.
11. Wear Warm Outfit
You’ll be dealing with freezing cold, therefore, make sure to pick clothes that will save you from the cold. Otherwise, you’ll be returning home after a while.
For ice fishing, you’ll need clothes that are warmer than clothes people wear while skiing.
It’s because, during skiing, the body temperature increases. But in fishing, all you’ll do is sit and wait.
Not only clothes, but you also need to pay attention to footwear and ice fishing gloves as well. Doesn’t matter how warm the jacket and pants you’re wearing, if your feet are cold then the entire body will be cold.
It’s very important that you go ice fishing with someone who has at least a little experience. You might feel like you know everything and you don’t need anyone. But trust us, you’ll definitely need an experienced hand, at least on your very first trip.
With that said, these are some of the best ice fishing tips for beginners you’ll find on the internet right now. Hope it helps!