Ice Fishing Boulder Junction021519 Snowmobiling Boulder Junction021519 187a4587

Ice Fishing Techniques

December 9, 2019

By Bob Bertch, Bob’s Manitowish Guide Service

I am not considered an ice fisherman because I do not get time during the winter to do much fishing except with a few friends once in a while. (Besides, I always tell people I cannot get my boat in the water). Plus, I do not have all the high tech equipment that you should have to fish often up here in winter in the Northwoods, i.e. snowmobile, Vexlar, power augers etc. But I do love to fish in and around Boulder Junction and learn about fishing of any kind during the winter. Hopefully it makes me a better fisherman during the summer months. During the winter months I usually grab books, or papers, and magazines and read up on all kinds of fishing across Wisconsin and the Midwest.

This past week I was reading some stories about ice fishing and some of the equipment you need and tips on how best to catch walleyes especially, but any kind of fish through the ice. I thought with this column I would give you some ideas that I read and hopefully help you catch more fish. If any of the tips help, great, if not, well I tried.

Just dangling a minnow beneath a bobber probably accounts for more walleye than a lot of other technique but sometimes learning other ideas can help if the fishing is slow. A lot of tip-up fishing is used up here in northern Wisconsin because it allows you cover a large area of the lake you are fishing, especially if you have a group of anglers.

I read that a mistake that a lot of anglers do is arriving at their spot in the late in the afternoon (usually walleyes bite late). They start drilling holes and the noise of the drills and the snowmobiles drive the walleye out of the area. It makes sense to me to drill your holes early in the day so the walleyes will be ready to catch in your spot later in the afternoon.

Another common mistake according to the books is fishing in a crowded area with lots of anglers. Most anglers assume because there is lot of people together that the fish are biting. Probably just the opposite. A large group of anglers drilling holes, dropping equipment on the ice, just like in a boat, will spook fish.  Your odds are better if  you take time to find a spot away from the crowd. Try to locate an area that has produced during the previous summer and keep moving till you find a productive hole.

A cool idea for keeping your hole free of ice inside your tent or ice house I found reading a book is to put a small candle on the side of the hole and pack a little snow around it to hold it up and stop the wind from blowing out the candle. The heat from the candle alone will keep your hole from freezing.

Another tip I read in this same book which seemed like a weird idea but it seems to work. Take a small plastic pipe and push it thru the center of a thin piece of Styrofoam the size of your hole. You then thread your line thru the pipe and drop into the hole. The Styrofoam and pipe will float on top of the water and you put a drop or two vegetable oil into the pipe. Believe it or not your line will not freeze in the hole. Cool, huh?

I always tell people the more you know about the kind of fishing you are doing and how to fish correctly, it will get you a lot better results. So grab a book on fishing and learn more as I do. Now go out and catch some fish. The ice is much better now and with expected cold weather it will get even thicker. Good luck and good fishing.

This week’s tip: I always encourage anglers to be cautious when going ice fishing in all my columns, so this one should not be any different. Be careful where you go and be courteous to the anglers near your area. The ice may be thicker now, but there are still spring hole spots where the ice can be dangerous. Good luck.

PS: The book I read a lot was a Prentice Hall Press book from The Hunting and Fishing Library by Dick Sternberg called Walleye. It is series of books on various species of fish, and this one was about walleye habits, techniques and fishing.