December Ice Fishing [PICS]
By Toby Trigger

Posted: December 6, 2014

First ice is the best ice for big trout and on December 3 my friend Harry and I introduced my son Kaden to Ice Fishing on “Super Secret Lake” east of Ovando.

After landing nine fish in less than four hours Kaden was feeling a little tired and headed for the truck. He had insisted on carrying every fish to the bucket himself and ran to every tip-up a dozen times. Ice fishing for the first time is very exciting when you’re three!

 

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THE GEAR:
• Tip ups/jigging pole
• Ice Auger
• Ice Scoop
• Braded tip-up backing (for easy handling of fish and to prevent frozen spools)
• Six feet 3-6 lb mono-filament or fluorocarbon line
• #6 circle hooks
• Fat night crawlers
• Hot-cocoa (because it’s cold outside)
Ice fishing tackle is important and having the wrong set-up can make for a long day of boredom on the ice.
THE METHOD:
Do:
• Use light line
• Use small hooks
• Fish 6 feet below the ice
• Hook the night crawler to allow plenty of wiggle
• Get to your tip-up fast (run – it’s fun and keep you warm)
• Let the fish run for a while, pull the tip-up out and then set the hook
• Drill a new hole near your most productive hole and gang-set it
• Set up an area for your activity like cooking and chasing your three year olds around
• Play the fish carefully and tire it out before attempting to pull it up through the hole
• Drill an 8”-10” hole to make it easier to pull big trout out
• Keep your holes free from ice

Don’t
• Use heavy line (greater than #6 lb is too visible and you’ll get refusals)
• Use hooks bigger than #4
• Use sinkers
• Set up and make a lot of noise around the holes
• Grab the line while the fish is running hard and yank
• Try to pull the fish up quickly
• Drop your ice scoop, ice spud, jigging pole, glasses, or camera in the hole
• Let the ice and slush build up in the hole and freeze your line
• Sit in an unproductive spot all day and curse the guys next to you for catching all the fish
• Set your tip-up so it bounces around and lets the spool touch the edges of the hole
• Wind the line backwards on the spool
Ice fishing is another great way to enjoy Montana’s public resources and put delicious meat in the freezer. Follow these tips to put fish on the ice and avoid the pit-falls of trial and error. And don’t forget the hotdogs and cocoa especially if you’ve got your kids with you.

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