With our modern culture’s interconnected and always-running nature, getting away from it all can be challenging, even for just a weekend. Yet, there comes a time when all of us, no matter our industry, station, or location, need to find time to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city and spend some quality time amidst nature. Unfortunately, with October in our rearview, the temperature beginning to decline slowly, and the nights getting longer and darker, it’s only a matter of time before it gets too cold for many to practice their favorite outdoor hobbies.
On the bright side, the changing seasons bring with them opportunities to get into all-new hobbies, such as ice fishing. While the term no doubt conjures up images of remote, icy landscapes in faraway lands, packed with polar bears and penguins, ice fishing is actually a fairly common sport in the wintertime, as anglers often can’t break free from their love for fishing for a whole season. If the temperature drops so low that your local pond or lake freezes, congratulations: you can now ice fish at that location, from the comfort of your favorite patio chair and with home just a short drive away.
Yet, while ice fishing is not the extreme sport that many would envision it is, ice fishing is an entirely different beast and does require a different series of rules and approaches to be learned. If you’re interested in learning how to translate a favorite hobby to a different season, or just looking for a new escape from the city as you try to get through the winter, you’re in the right place.
Here’s everything you need to know to get started when your local lake freezes over.
Go Where the Ice is Thickest
It’s important to remember that even though you aren’t fishing on some distant tundra, ice fishing can be dangerous; Unless you want to go for a swim that will literally freeze your digits off, you’ll want to pay attention to your local weather forecast, pick somewhere where the ice isn’t likely to be thin, and tread carefully while on the ice. For best results, you’ll want to choose a pond or lake with a large population of fish that tend to stay active in the wintertime, like trout, perch, and the like, and you’ll need to make sure that whatever body of water you fish in is at least ten feet deep. You can also pay attention to ice fishing forums and conventions, as places where ice fishers tend to congregate will not only tend to guarantee you a larger haul but also provide you the support you need to get started as soon as possible.
Pay attention to local weather advisories and your state ice fishing guidelines, and if you notice that the ice you’re about to step on looks fragile or not solid enough, do not proceed.
Your Ice Fishing Starter Pack
Much like vanilla fishing, successful and safe ice fishing requires an extensive amount of equipment: unlike other varieties of fishing, some of that equipment is there for the exclusive purpose of keeping you safe. While more complete lists of necessary safety gear are widely available elsewhere, it’s generally a good idea to have at least safety picks, a personal floatation device, a whistle in case of emergencies, and some kind of bar you can use to test the ice ahead of you.
To start fishing, you’ll likely need an ice fishing tackle kit (check out tailoredtackle.com), a jigging rod, a fishfinder (though that one is optional, it can help you locate populations of fish, which can save you lots of time), and finally, a pop-up tent. The latter, often called a shanty, is also optional, but having some sort of shelter readily available on the ice will make the experience much more comfortable and fun for all involved.
A Sedentary Thrill-Seeker Sport
While ice fishing may not be as exotic or unattainable as people typically think it is, it’s crucial to remember that if proper precautions aren’t taken, it can still be dangerous. Yet, with the proper equipment and the right research, you can chill out by the frozen lake of your choice and enjoy all the serenity the ice has to offer. The added danger and the thrill of not knowing what’s coming out of your carved ice hole make ice fishing a more than entertaining wintertime sport for those who prefer their getaways frosty.