Ice Fishing Tips for Beginners

Learn a few of our cherished ice fishing tips, from tip ups to ice houses.

| January/February 2013

Tip Ups

Tip-ups let you know when you’ve got a fish, even across the ice.

Photo By Amy Grisak

When winter freezes the outdoor world solid, it’s not necessarily time to hole up by the fireplace. Believe it or not, it’s possible to remain warm, find a frozen body of water, and maybe even catch something for dinner.

Ice fishing presents an opportunity to enjoy the quiet restfulness of winter while still being productive. Many people picture the pastime as a bunch of daft individuals hunkered over dark holes in the ice for hours on end, or even the crazier ones who bring recreational vehicles, complete with satellite dishes and heaters, onto frozen lakes as wintertime housing. The good news is no matter what, if you prepare ahead, you’ll have a fantastic time.

Ice fishing tips for thin ice

The most important aspect of ice fishing is knowing when the ice is safe.

“A lot of people say four inches, but I feel a lot more comfortable when it’s six inches,” says John Fraley, information officer for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks who likes to ice fish in his spare time.

Bryan Newman, who frequently fishes during the winter around his home in Sugar Run, Pennsylvania, says, “Look for blue or clear ice. That’s what I like to see. And I drill test holes just to make sure.”

It usually takes a few weeks of temperatures staying in the 20s to form good ice, and longer if your daytime temperatures warm to above freezing. If you’re not sure how quickly the ice is setting up that year, look for other people fishing. Fraley says when you see groups of people out there on a regular basis, it’s a pretty good bet the ice is sound.

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