The “HOLE” Truth!
“Holy Moley” it’s time to go ice fishing! The ice is getting thick, hard and safe. There’s a lot more to ”Ice hole” fishing than you would think.
The other day I cut my “fresh holes” in a 10 foot circle. My “holes” were in 2 clusters of 3. The “center hole” is for my electronics. I never fish the “same hole” crammed with fish finder gear. The “middle hole” is already full and fishing gear makes for a “tangled mess in my hole.” My “flanking holes” are for my 2 rods. I use rod holders that keep my rods parallel to the ice and “my hole”. This way, I can set the hook quickly while positioning my seat between both rods in “my holes”. Most bites are very light so you need to have quick access to your rods while watching “each hole” carefully.
The ice was about 5 inches thick which is safe for a big fella like me. You can measure the depth of the ice after cutting “your hole”. To measure the depth through “your hole” use electronics or a weight on a string. Pull out the string and measure the distance from the bottom to the top of “your hole”
Using a weight and a string in “your hole” is also a great way to attract fish. When the bites slow down, drop the weight, with the string attached, through “your hole”. Bounce the weight up and down on the bottom to simulate feeding fish. I usually use my “electronics hole” to avoid tangles but “any hole” will do.
If “your hole” is not attracting attention, fish “another hole”. The other day I was getting “skunked” in my “first hole” so I turned around to fish a “second hole” just a few feet away. The fish finder showed the same depth and structure. “Both holes” were the same except for their distance between the “holes”.
“Wham, Bam, thank you Mam” was the outcome. My “new hot hole” was like “tuna fishing”. As soon as I iced a trout and returned my bait into “the hole”, I was instantly into another trout in the “same hole”. Be quick when fishing a “hot hole”. Many times an active school is passing “your hole”. The school may soon be out of range. Activity in the “hot hole” sometimes stimulates a feeding frenzy so don’t waste your time fiddling with your gear, bait or fish. This may be your best chance for some real “ice hole” action.
Where you drill “your hole” is also important. Look for evidence of success from other fishermen. “Their holes” will be dirty with debris from catching fish. A pair of binoculars will help you discover these “hot holes” from a distance. Often you can see foraging eagles and ravens around these “hot holes”.
If I am fishing on “virgin ice”, I look for shoreline structure. I cut “exploratory holes” perpendicular to the shore about 10 feet apart or so. This line of “exploratory holes” will show a bottom profile. Fish “each hole” a few minutes and see which is the most “productive hole”. Once you locate the “hot hole”, focus on that area. A GPS is a great way to map your “lucky holes”.
When you “ice hole” fish it is not normally a “catch and release” event. Montana seafood is hard to come by, so the fresh fish from a “bountiful ice hole” is a real treat.
Know your legal limits and get out the recipe books. I filet, butterfly and trim my catch to minimize any toxins that may be in the meat. Search my “Sweetening Fish Filets” on this website for my “Montana Grant” recipe that helps to clean your catch.
Tight lines and a “whole lotta” ice fishing fun,