Column: No shortage of questions about ice fishing
by Larry White
Jan 06, 2010 | 1407 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I have always been curious about ice fishing although I have never tried it.

Last year a friend of mine invited me on a trip to Wisconsin to try a little fishing with some of his friends. It was in January and very cold up north. I had enough clothes to stay warm, but there were other things that concerned me about ice fishing.

First of all, why would anyone walk out on a frozen lake and drill a hole in the ice to see if it was thick enough to support several fishermen? If it happens to be a little too thin couldn’t the ice tester guy wind up in the cold water?

Next, they slide a small tent out on the lake and put it over the hole. Then they bring a heater inside the tent to keep them warm. Down here a heater would melt the ice that you were standing on.

Suppose all of the above preparations went well and we started fishing in that ice hole about the size of a saucer and suddenly hooked a fish too big to fit through the hole. Should we start chipping away at the ice we were standing on to make the hole larger? Finally, I am wondering how they could know where a good fishing spot would be for drilling a fishing hole, if the whole lake was frozen over?

After allowing my friend a chance to clear up my questions, I felt a little better about ice fishing. First, he explained, the ice tester guy has to make sure that he doesn’t show up at the lake too early in the morning. If several more guys are already out on the ice then it must be thick enough for us. The tent has an insulated floor so the heater doesn’t melt through the ice.

As far as catching a fish too big to fit through the ice hole, he said we would use very small, lightweight rods with ultra-light line and tiny jigs. More than likely a big fish would ignore that small offering so we would never hang a fish too big to fit through the ice hole.

When it comes to locating a good fishing hole through the ice, they find them in the summer when they can use a boat. The find brush piles with a depth finder and mark them with a GPS. In the winter, when the lake is frozen, they put a depth finder and a GPS on a snowmobile, punch in the numbers and go right to it.

After clearing up these things I was ready to go ice fishing, but the weatherman had other ideas. A bad arctic blizzard blew in the week we were supposed to go and we had to cancel our trip. I wanted to try again this winter, but after the weather we have had this week I think I will just stay close to home.