If you’re looking to do something outdoors this winter, there’s no experience quite like ice fishing. Not only is it exhilarating to be out on the ice, but it’s also a great way to pass the time with your friends. Like any outdoor activity, however, it comes with its own set of risks that you need to watch out for, along with a list of necessary tools that will make your experience easier.
Where to Go
Before you go anywhere, it’s important to have the appropriate paperwork, which varies by state. A fishing license is required to do any type of fishing in Wyoming, so be sure to get one before you do anything else. You also need to familiarize yourself with the state laws to be sure you aren’t breaking them.
How to Prepare
While ice fishing is an extremely fun activity, it is important to remember that it is also extremely dangerous. It is for this reason that you should bring a friend along every time you plan to participate in the sport. Having a partner around will not only give you someone to talk to as you wait for a bite, but it could also save your life in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, be sure to tell someone else where you’re going, what you’re doing, and when you will return.
With all of that in mind, it’s also important to check the thickness of the ice before you set foot on it. The recommended minimum thickness for the average person to walk on ice is four inches, so if it’s any thinner than that, you’re likely to go swimming rather than fishing. Keep in mind that ice thickness varies within the same body of water. One place may be safe, but that doesn’t mean the area several feet away is, so stay on your toes.
What You Need
- Auger -In order to fish under the ice, you have to first drill a hole through to the water. An auger, whether hand- or gasoline-powered, is used to dig down into the ice until it reaches open water. The hole’s diameter should be no larger than ten inches and no smaller than eight inches.
- Ice rescue claws – In the event that you do fall into the water, you can use these claws to quickly pull yourself to safety.
- Lure/bait fishing rod- Depending on which fishing method you choose, you may need to bring bait or lures along to catch fish.
- Gear- This includes everything from warm underclothing to waterproof jackets. Waterproof boots with good traction are a must, along with hats, ski masks, and gloves.
- Friends- Every fishing trip needs the company of a friend to make it that much more enjoyable. Bring some snacks, load up a few cold ones, and have a good time!
How to Fish
There are three basic ways to ice fish, though if you’re a beginner it’s recommended that you start out with light-rod fishing. This method requires using a jigging lure and bait. If you choose to use live bait, keep it alive until you are ready to put it on the hook—wax worms or maggots are the best to use. Begin fishing with a long cast to the bottom and wait until you get a nibble. If nothing bites, try moving further up the water column and try again.