Jim’s Top 5 “Best” Ice Fishing Tips. . .
1. I find that a small hand towel, clipped to my clothing, or in my pocket comes in very handy when removing the fish from the water. Rather than taking off my gloves to pick up the fish, I simply grab the towel and grip the fish with it. I place the wriggling fish onto the ice/snow, and cover it with the towel. The fish will immediately calm. Then, you may either remove the towel and take your picture and return the fish to its domain, or put it out of its misery and eat it for dinner that night. The towel keeps your hands or gloves from getting cold, wet, and slimy. Be sure to launder it between fishing trips – it can get rather rank if not cleaned often.
2. When bringing a fish up out of the water through the ice hole, be sure that the nose of the fish is in the center of the hole. If you can see the fish, get excited, and tug on your line before the nose appears, the fish may get caught lengthwise and stuck under the ice, often causing your line to break, or losing the fish with the aid of the sharp ice underneath. Just be patient and work it out after the nose appears.
3. While ice fishing, my line often gets coated with ice. Removing it so the line is pliable and not so heavy again can be tricky. Some take their fingers and pinch the line while running them down the line. This can damage the line, even break it. I’ve even seen one of my friends run it side to side through his mouth. However, removing it is quite simple. Simply dip your rod into the water and shake it around a bit. It will eventually give up the ice and be clean once more.
4. When leaving your ice hole for the day, clean around it and open it up so that the water is visible. Kicking snow into the hole will only cause a booby trap for unsuspecting fisherman walking on the ice. If the hole is visible, they will be able to avoid it, or even give it a try.
5. Have you ever found that sweet spot where you just keep on catching fish? I call it a “honey hole!” When you have to leave for the day and want to find it again the next day, you can simply build up some snow next to the hole and place a stick or other marker into so that you can find it easily even if it snows. If you think you will “remember” where it is, you may waste a lot of time looking, especially if it snows overnight. Paint doesn’t work either. . . especially if it snows. A GPS would probably work if you have access to one, but I’ve found that people avoid a stick when they are walking or snowmobiling on the ice. Since they don’t know what it means, they tend to go around it or leave it alone. For all they know, it means that the ice is thin! I’ll never tell!