Ice Hole Ready?
Ice fishing is just around the corner. Now is the time to get ready to and organized. I often spend less than a few hours on the ice to fill a limit. The reason is that I am organized, prepared and have a plan. First get last year’s gear out and clean it. If it is like mine, it has old coiled line, trash, dried yuck and scattered lures everywhere.
Changing your line is essential. Use premium line on your newly cleaned and lubed reels. Use lube sparingly but apply to all moving parts. I prefer line that I can see such as Golden Stren or Trilene Green Solar in 6-8 lb. test. The species of fish determines how heavy my tippet will be. I may use 2-4 lb. test for perch and trout. You want to make the most out of every bite. Ice fishing can be slow and those with better gear and technique usually produce more fish onto the ice.
Every line has a small barrel swivel that becomes my attachment point for clear “Flourocarbon fly fishing tippet material”. An 8 wrap clinch knot is perfect. Tie your knots at home where you can pre-rig and take your time. Knot tying in the cold is tough. Don’t be cheap or careless here with the catching business end of your rig.
Don’t forget to check you reels’ drag and bail. Good Ultra lite reels work great on the ice. Many of the “ice rod reels” are small but cheap. You want a reel with a decent working adjustable drag. For beginners or rookies try the small ultra-lite Zebco reel with the casting trigger. It rides on the rod like an open face reel but is pretty bomb proof with 6-8 lb. test line.
I also check guides and the rods for nicks and dings. Use a Q-Tip to check guides on your rod. If a bit of cotton comes off, then change the guide or smooth out the nick with emery cloth. Try using Armor All to coat all surfaces of your gear. This helps to keep water, slime, and ice from sticking to the gear.
Get a dedicated small tackle box or organizer. Sharpen your hooks! You will hook 3 times as many fish with a sharp hook. I sharpen brand new hooks. Time is critical when your gloves are off so do what you can in your warm home before you hit the ice. Locating and surveying your buffet of organized and ready lures helps to design a plan that will catch fish.
Check out some new productive waters. There are a lot of great fishing shop websites with current reports. Join the Ice Shanty.com team. It’s free and fun. Ice fishermen are not snobby and always helpful. My sign in at this site is MTGRANT. I and others always share current information and tips.
I love to catch fish when I ice fish. Don’t be afraid to ask other guys that are catching fish. A lot of times it’s something as simple as depth or color. Ice is a poor man’s yacht! There is nowhere I can’t go with 2 leg power and a flat toboggan style sled. Building a custom box onto the sled will hold your auger, bucket and gear. Now is the time to get rigged and ready. Fresh ice is great fishing ice.
Tight Lines, Montana Grant