Some of the biggest fish are caught in the winter. Even if a pond or lake is frozen, it will still have a good number of fish like walleye, trout, pike or largemouth bass. In the Midwest, you can even fish for bluegill and crappie. But before getting out on the ice, there are some important things to keep in mind.
Any negligence or absentmindedness can lead to tragic results. Make sure to check with a local bait and tackle shop for any tips or hazards to look out for. They will know the conditions of the nearby lake. You can also test the thickness of the ice by using a chisel or cordless drill. The rule of thumb is two inches to support a person (we’d recommend at least four) and 10 inches to support a vehicle. During early or late winter, the ice may be more fragile. If you have any doubt, stay on land.
You also need to make sure you have all of the proper equipment to be prepared for any situation. Obviously, dress for the weather with warm layers, waterproof boots and gloves and hat. You also need to make sure you bring hand spikes, a life preserver and a whistle (in case you need to get someone’s attention far away).
Even though it might look easy in the movies with the actors just making one hole and successfully catching fish, it actually takes many holes (sometimes covering a large area) to find the fish. Once you’ve made the holes, you have to decide whether to use a rod or trap and then which bait to use depending on what type of fish you’re trying to catch. It’s best to keep moving and looking with your depth-finder to find fish. Early in the winter, the shallow water with forage tend to be more productive, but in late winter, the fish migrate to deeper waters.
Once you’ve mastered the basics and are looking for a little more of a challenge, try entering one of the many ice fishing contests that sometimes offer big prizes. The largest contest is currently held in north Minnesota at Gull Lake in January each year.
If you’re looking for land with a pond or a waterfront property to do your own fishing year-round, contact United Country Real Estate to help you get started. Visit www.UnitedCountry.com to learn more.