Tips and tricks for ice fishing

Discussion in 'Hard Water Discussions' started by DaleM, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. DaleM

    DaleM Original OGF Staff Member

    Here ya go guys. Post your tips and tricks along with any ideas you have. I can see this will be quite popular. The season is getting here fast so post away!
    ( Thanks for the idea 1977 Walleye guy )
  2. DaleM

    DaleM Original OGF Staff Member

    10 Pre-Ice Fishing Tips
    By Tim Allard

    With autumn coming to a close, ice fishing season is just around the corner. Now's the time to audit your gear and make sure your organized for first ice action. To help you get ready, here's a list of 10 things I do to get ready for the hard-water.

    1. Charge up your batteries
    It's recommended that during storage in the off season, you periodically charge batteries used in flashers and underwater camera systems. If you've been neglecting your batteries, charge them right away. While you're at it, give your electronics an overhaul and make sure everything is in working order. Without these tools you'll be fishing blind.

    2. Give your auger an overhaul
    Whether you use a manual or a gas-powered auger, give it an overhaul before the ice hits, checking blades and tightening screws. For a power auger, start it up, make sure you've got a spare spark plug and enough oil for the season. If there's anything wrong with your gas auger get it serviced right away by an authorized dealer.

    3. Spruce up the shelter
    It's a good idea to check your portable shelter and get it out of storage to make sure everything is in working order. Things that you might have forgotten about since your last outing (like a tear in the material) or storage surprises (like mice nesting in the unit) are problems to be dealt before your first ice trip of the season. Simply assemble the hut and check for tears in fabric, tighten bolts and nuts, ensure the tow rope is ok, and so on.

    4. Get your accessories ready
    Take some time to ponder your past trips and stock up on items you need for ice fishing. Here are a few suggestions: a headlamp with fresh batteries, a thermos, a warmer pair of boots, a new ice scoop, a minnow bucket and net, a tackle storage bag and see-through plastic tackle boxes.

    5. Get your safety gear in order
    Don't neglect your safety gear. Make sure you've got ice picks, a throw line, a 2-way radio batteries with fresh batteries, a first aid kit, and a bag of spare clothes in case you get wet.

    6. Scout out lakes
    With open water season still here take the time to investigate some lakes you plan on ice fishing. Mark good-looking spots in your GPS or on a hydrographic map and pay close attention to where there are still healthy weeds; these spots are prime at first ice.

    7. Check your rods.
    Did you bust a rod last year that you haven't replaced yet? Well now's the time to carefully inspect all your fishing rods, replacing any broken ones and adding to your collection. Also, to keep your rods organized and protected consider buying a rod carrying case, like HT's Rod Locker or Tackle Tote.

    8. Spool up your reels.
    Put some fresh line on your reels. Remember to first put a layer of mono backing on if using braid. You might also want to lube reels up with a cold temperature grease.

    9. Get your tip-ups ready
    Hopefully you didn't store tip-ups in the heat over the summer. If so, and you're using underwater models, they might have leaked grease and will need to be lubricated. Also, check that you've got enough line on the spools.

    10.Organize and overhaul your tackle.
    Go through your tackle and make a list of what's missing (do you have enough lures as well as terminal tackle). Stock up on these items now before tackle shops run short once ice season is in full swing. Once you've got your tackle, get it ready by popping paint out of lure eyes, sharpening hooks, and organizing it in storage cases.

  3. to help keep the holes I paint ping pong balls black drop 4 or 5 in each hole and if there is any sun out they attract enough heat to keep holes open
    Saugeyefisher likes this.
  4. Wannabitawerm

    Wannabitawerm Flatulent Entreprenuer

    If fishing without a shanty, buy some oil-based fish attractant. Spray it on your line guides to keep ice at bay.
    Saugeyefisher and doegirl like this.
  5. 1977 walleye guy

    1977 walleye guy Addicted Outdoorsman

    No thank you Dale, and the rest of the OGF Clan!!!:D
  6. 1977 walleye guy

    1977 walleye guy Addicted Outdoorsman

    this one isn't really rocket science, but only take the amount of bait you anticipate on using. a couple of times of hot/cold and your bait supply is dead.

    I also try to keep it inside my coat, to liven it up some, not sure if it really helps but who knows.
  7. I sprinkle dry oats in the hole. As they soak up the water the oats flutter to the bottom. Makes a great fish attractant.
    Saugeyefisher likes this.
  8. are really good & if you don't catch fish scoop them up & warm!!
  9. Make sure the ice is thick enough to walk/drive on BEFORE you do so:p
    Saugeyefisher likes this.
  10. cooked rice a cup dumped in the hole every couple hours seems to attract minnows and gills
  11. I thought I would start it off with a list of good tips. That I have either learned, read, or tried.

    Keeping your minnow active. To keep a minnow constantly active just get a pair of nail clippers and cut off the bottom half of the tail. This will make the minnow constantly moving because he has a harder time keeping his balance.

    Just stay out a little longer. If you are going fishing for walleyes. Instead of packing it up when the sun starts to set stay out for a little bit longer. That is the period of time where the bite can really pick up.

    Seeing a tip up at night. If night fishing with tip ups you can get those batteries operated glow sticks. A lot of guys like to use them for trolling the night bite on Erie, so they can see when there boards are set off.

    Slow bite. If the bite is slow you can do one of 2 things. 1st you can do a tandem rig with your main jig than a small plain hook about 6 inches below the first one. But use a stiffer line when tying the second hook on to the shank of the first one. The stiffer line will make it so that the heaver jig doesn’t get tangled. Tip the small plain hook with a single maggot or waxie. 2nd if the bite is slow get some rice or crushed egg shells. They will flutter down drawing the attention of near by fish.

    Iced up guides. Chap stick on the eyes of your rod can be prevented from freezing by rubbing chap stick on them, steelhead fisherman do this too to prevent the same thing from happening.

    Need a extra bucket? if u get your minnows in a big bucket and you need it for some reason, maybe hold your catch, drill a extra hole until you get close to where u think the ice ends. Then with your awl, that your of course always carry with you, stab down in the hole and put your minnows in it. When u stab it the hole will fill up with water keeping your minnows fresh. It is important to stab a hole so that the whole fills up completely, so no angler comes walking by in the future and twists his/ or her ankle.

    Make a chumming bucket. Next time you use a can for something drill holes in it and put a rope in it. Then just put some creamed corn, or whatever you want, then just give it a shake.

    Make a spring bobber. I did this last year and it does work. Get 5-7 inches of a guitar string and loop it, with a 2-3 inch “tale” on it with electrical tape. Then just tape it onto your rod tip. The string is very sensitive and if it ices up just give it a squeeze and the ice pops off.

    Shanty anchor. get a 12 inch piece of PVC and drill a hole in the center tie a rope thru the hole and to your shanty. Drill a hole behind your shanty, throw it in there and make it catch on the diameter of the hole. This way win the wind blows your shanty won’t go flying across the ice to the from the dam to the RT 88 causeway like that one guys on skeeter. :p :D

    Keeping your feet warm and dry. I had recently found a foam exercise mat. I cut it in half and took it out one day. It was about a half inch thick. As soon as I took my feet off of the ice and onto the mat, I instantly was able to feel the warmth back in my toes. Also I hear carpet works well too, but that can get wet and frozen. I do believe that that mat made me a lot more comfortable and helped me stay out longer.

    That is all i can think of for now, Ill be sure to add some more later.
    odell daniel likes this.
  12. RAW rice!!! was a secret till now!!!!:p a handfull now and again...sinks to the bottom and swells up and floats back up!!! you will see it on your vex!!! and it will ''bring them in''!!
  13. instead of just a heater buy a cook top burner!!! i ALWAYS take brats/chedderworst and cook on the ice!!! and it heats the shanty better than most cat. heaters....
  14. here are just a few off of the top of my head.

    Eye jigging tips - at times, especially in clear or heavily fished waters, and particularly in the middle of the day. I have seen big jigging motions with blade baits like vib-e's scare eyes away. As a rule I like to use my most agressive jigging motions when the fish are most agressive. and more subtle, spoon/dropper combos when the fish are reluctant to approach during the middle part of the day.

    VEXILAR CRAPPIE- remember if you are fortunate enough to have a shool of active crappie under you, the higher fish are usually the easiest to catch. Though there are times when deeper fish are bigger, but not always. When a school comes through and you are marking several fish at various depths don't waste too much time trying to catch one specific fish. Most fish will decide to hit within a few seconds or they will almost never hit. So move your bait up and down from fish to fish till you find one that wants to play. Once you have the active fish on the ice you can work harder on the tight lipped ones.

    Also in shallow water remember that you wont always mark high fish. You can catch some big crappie just a few feet under the ice. If you are fishing in 5 ft try fishing just 2 or 2.5ft down or even less in stained water. besides crappie like to feed upward anyways.

    VEXILAR TIP - If you don't have one. get one!

    DROPPERS - tie your own droppers to use with spoons. Use stiff florocarbon, and octopus style hooks. Tie them using the same method that you would for tying walleye harnesses. On the other end tie them to a small cross lock snap so that you can quickly change hook sizes. Small hooks for waxies and spikes, medium hooks for minnow heads (my favorite), larger hooks for full minnows. Keep them short between 3-5 inches. For panfish sometimes 2 inches. the short stiff droppers will not tangle and the fish perfer them over longer ones.

    Panfish Rig - buy some small (size 12 or smaller) flys that are used for fly fishing, in natural tones like black and brown. Tie them on to your line using a palomar knot but leave the tag end long enough to add another heavier jig at the bottom. vary your gap between the two. In water where most of the action is on bottom 4-8 inches is fine. If you want to try to cover two depths at once tie them several feet apart. Tip the fly with a single spike.
    Many times the larger gills will prefer the fly over the jig.
  15. I just read in a magazing today that using fish scales from the fish you are catching to drop down the hole works really well also. The scales have a natural reflectiveness to them once off the fish and with there shell like shape, they flutter extremely well. Plus, naturally they have a fish sent to them.
  16. Carry a magnet with you. I'm shure lots of us have lost something down the hole. some times you can retrieve it with a magnet. just tie it to your line and send it down, a radio magnet is usually strong enough.
  17. hardwaterfan

    hardwaterfan Twinsburg, OH (NE OH, northern edge of Summit Co.)

    tips mainly for flip shanty users:

    1. right out of the box, replace the pull rope with a rope thats about 3 times longer. it makes it so much easier to pull because you arent pulling up on the shanty. also then you could sling the rope over one shoulder and walk out with your hands in your pockets. hands free dragging seems so much easier to me.

    2. invest in some kind of runners to protect the sled base. it probably only takes a few years to wear holes in the sled with no runners. at least if the runners wear out they can be replaced. i have the clam runners with grooves. acceptable but could be better. i routed a round-over on the ends of mine where it loads into the truck bed to make it slide in easier.

    3. i beleive the travel cover is a good investment. i have an open truck bed and ive heard that uncovered shanties can catch the wind and fly out. plus it makes it nice for appearances sake in storage.

    4. always keep a wad of about 6 grocery store bags packed inside for use as trash bags.

    5. never leave food of any kind in the shanty.

    6. the weight of water in the shanty material will add weight to the load. water comes from two main sources, your propane heater, and the ice/snow, especially on warmer days. try to keep the shanty dried out and in the spring give it a good rinse and a thorough drying.

    7. a square of cheap carpet set in the bottom of the tub is nice because it keeps things quiet.

    8. squat 3.5 gal. buckets are better for use in a small shanty. get the lids also. these can be had for free at bakeries. they get a lot of icings and fillings in these buckets and can give you more than you need. a 3.5 gal. bucket with a lid is the perfect carrying case for a vex. it also turns into a perfect vex stand. take the vex out and put the lid back on the bucket, then set the vex on the lid. its stable because its squat, and also the lid has a rim to keep it from sliding off, and it holds the vex up higher to make it easier to see.

    9. only take what you need. keep a seperate tackle bag/boxes for ice fishing gear only. if you know you wont need something, get rid of it. you dont want clutter in your ice gear system. keep it simple.

    10. if youre alone, dont get out on a windy day without closing the shack or making youself some kind of ice anchor. you could have a real disaster. especially with a burning hot heater going. i like the peace of mind of the anchor. heres my take, maybe not the best, but feather light. the thing thats not shown is the anchor is wrapped in teflon tape:

    11. regarding mods in general, anything you do to a shanty or take out on the ice, remember that youre going to beat on it and abuse it 20 times harder than you expect. dont do anything fragile. its got to be "bullet proof". also try to use stainless steel so your fasteners wont rust.

    12. a small plastic snow shovel works well for packing snow against the shanty for more insulation. its also good for clearing snow away to let light through for sight fishing. its optional though. something i leave in the truck unless i really want to bring it.

    13. here is my solution for not having any good place to keep my rods while fishing. before i made these i had them sitting on my minnow bucket and maybe hold the other. these work out so nice, this is my best ice fishing idea. well i kinda "borrowed" some ideas from other things ive seen. these are really sweet. plus they act as holders for those fragile rods hauling out and packing back in.

    14. never put your jigs or lures away wet. use your heater to dry them off first.

    15. if you like night fishing come up with a light sytem. i have no pics of any of the light system i installed but i have LED rope lights on the two shanty frame poles that cross over the fishing area. they both plug into a 12v 5.5 ah battery that is bound in the left forward corner of the shanty in the support bracket. the lights were installed using clear masking tape and the lights are aimed at the fishing area. the cord from the lights to the battery is removable and it wraps up and stows under the seat. i made a bungee strap that wraps around the battery and holds it in place. i bought two batteries from nature vision for twenty bucks. they are about half the size of a vex battery and should last for about 15 hours on a charge. on top of that i have a coleman lantern with rechargeable batteries. this hangs behind me in the right back corner. this somes out for unpacking and then at the truck i set it on the truck to light up the area. lastly i have a led headlamp for spotlighting for tying jigs, etc.

    16. either keep your auger 10' away from your hands or keep the cover on. i nearly destroyed my left hand once. all that happened was the auger "rolled" over and grazed my hand. take it from me auger blade vs. flesh is no contest.
    Saugeyefisher likes this.
  18. I wish they made plastic and aluminum magnets ever notice that every thing you drop goes in the hole ,,,but you can't drop a fish in the hole ,,,and the ones you want to keep fall off the hook or break your line with your only lure fall right in the hole
    Saugeyefisher likes this.
  19. If you have a hand auger I suggest to invest in a adapter for your cordless drill.Go to you can get about 30 holes drilled.Don't use acheap drill.Trust me I learned that last year.The adapter that attaches to the cheap drill slips when drilling.They about 25bucks.
  20. Its already been said to keep your wax worms in your pocket to keep them warm so they dont die. Somehow i always manage to smash or break or not put the lid tightly enough back on the plastic container and end up with a pocket full of worms and saw dust. To solve this problem i took a altoid mint tin and poked a few small air holes in the top. The mint tin does not smash or break. and it makes it easier to get a worm out. and easier to put in your pocket. i have also herd that a old chewing tobacco can works well for this too.