Ice fishing has its limitations. The size of the fish is directly related to the size of the ice hole. Most Icemen use augers that cut a 6-, 8,10-, or 12-inch hole. The most popular hole diameter is 8inches. Maybe there is a joke here, but it is too easy. Anyway, if the fish is BIG, it will have a harder time fitting out of the ice hole. Size Matters!
During one ice fishing jaunt, I was fishing in a lake called Broad Creek. We were catching crappies, gills, and bass. Suddenly I was into something HUGE! We played with the big fish for over 30 minutes and finally got it near the hole. It was a huge 20 plus pound carp. Our Ice hole was maybe 8 inches. It was cut using a sharpened spud bar.
My Dad grabbed the spud bar and began chopping to make a bigger hole in the 10-inch-thick ice. The fish went wild. It took a while, but the bigger hole was ready, and I slowly dragged the huge carp to the opening. Now what?
I was using a 10 lb. test line, a 6-foot pole, and had an ok drag on the Mitchell 300 reel. We always bring the fish into the hole headfirst. Once the fish began to come out of the hole, we would back up and keep the fish coming. As I was backing up the fish got stuck. My Dad used his size 12 boot to finish the job. My mom made fish cakes from the carp, which were pretty tasty.
Getting a BIG fish out of an ice hole is a challenge. TA big walleye, trout, pike, or ling can quickly gain their freedom with a quick flop or two at the hole. Here are some tips to get the fish onto the ice.
Grab with a glove Clothe or rubber gloves add traction when grabbing a fish. You want the fish to be head out and have your buddy do the grabbing. This is best done from a kneeling position. Use both hands, avoid the line, and grab and slide. I bring a few pairs of gloves when some get wet.
Gaff I have had some good and bad success. A gaff has a sharp point that can quickly cut the fishing line. Space is limited so getting the gaff into the mouth or under a gill takes practice. You usually get one shot.
Net Believe it or not, they also now make a net that folds and fits down the hole, with a long handle. Once deployed, you can engage a switch that makes the net fold and scoop the fish. I have not used this net but…
Prayer Get the fish to the hole, head out first, start pulling and praying. Once the fish is on the ice, kick them away from the hole.
There must be a better way and I am open to suggestions.