THE GREAT OUTDOORS — With the chillingly cold air now over Utah, the water in our favorite fishing holes will begin to freeze. With that comes the early preparation of getting your equipment ready to go.
Here are a few items to add to your ice fishing gear and ways to be prepared that will help improve your catch rates.
If your ice auger has dull blades, you’re in for a real workout once ice layers thicken throughout the season. Consider putting on new blades each season to make the work a lot easier. When using a power auger, the same is true. Also be sure to freshen the tank with new gas/oil mixtures to ensure easy cranking once you’re out for a day of fishing.
When using a fish finder on the ice, you have multiple advantages to those who don’t use one. That doesn’t mean you can’t catch fish without one, because you certainly can, but the finder will give you depth readings, as well as marking fish on the indicator.
There’s something to be said for putting your lure or bait exactly where the fish are, and a fish finder will take the guesswork out of the task. This will speed along the trial-and-error phase when you first begin to fish and should help put you into the strike zone of the water column.
And don’t forget to recharge your batteries, or replace with fresh ones for a day’s worth of fishing. If you are fishing “blind” (without a fish finder), move your lure up and down to differing depths in search of active fish.
A short ice pole is much more sensitive to the light bite of winter fish. This also allows you to be closer to the hole and will give you a better look at your rod tip for any movement that would indicate a subtle bite.
These poles are not expensive if you shop around a bit and will hold your favorite reel in place for you. A good rod and reel combo can be found for around $20 or so and is worth the investment. You’ll notice a difference right away when using one for the first time.
In addition to the sensitivity of a shorter rod, a wire strike indicator will show the slightest of bites that are so common when fishing under the ice. Being closer to the hole and the end of your rod is a great advantage in sensing the slightest wiggle of the strike indicator.
It is a good idea to spool up with a fresh line every season. If you hang a good fish, a dry-rotted line can snap easily and will ruin your day. You also get rid of the line’s “memory” of having been on a round spool for eight months or more. With a smoother, flatter line, you’ll have a better indication of a fish hitting than if you have big loops off the end of your rod.
A few words need to be said here about proper etiquette while on the ice. If someone within eye-sight of your location is catching fish and you’re having a slow go at it, don’t load up all your equipment and move in on top of other anglers.
When you feel you need to ask questions or get a look at what they’re doing that you’re not, a quiet, friendly visit is generally not frowned upon by ice fishermen. You’re more likely to get the information you’re looking for in this manner, rather than moving up right next to those having success and crowding their space and scaring off the fish.
What is your go-to equipment for having success ice fishing? Let us know in the comments.