By: Calvin Joseph
Ice fishing is one of many ways to enjoy the great outdoors during the winter months. Let’s face it, winter is and will always be part of our life for five months out of the year. In years past, we’ve enjoyed mild winters and have also had to contend with this thing they call the Polar Vortex – Yigh!
One of many ways I like to enjoy the outdoors is to go ice fishing on the many lakes that are within our area. There are so many ways to do this and still enjoy it to the fullest. Whether it is renting an ice shack for the day or using a portable ice hut, we can still enjoy the outdoors with the comforts of heat, especially during those cold days on the lake.
There are so many products on the market today that can make the day that much more enjoyable. Sometimes it can be overwhelming on shopping for such items, especially with all that they have on the market. For the beginner ice fishermen, there are certain tools and supplies that you will need to get started. Here are some of the essentials that you will most likely need:
- Ice Fishing Rod/Reel Combo – A spinning outfit is probably the way to go, a medium 26 – 28” rod spooled with 8lb. test fishing line. This set up is ideal because it is versatile in a sense that you can catch the smallest Crappie to catching Walleyes and the fair sized Lake Trout that are abundant on the beautiful Lake of the Woods.
- Manual Auger – I started out with a Bologna powered Auger, which is fine nowadays. They make them so well and so sharp without having to dish out loads of money for a gas powered or even electric powered auger. A manual auger is an inexpensive item that is essential to this sport. A 6” to 8“ auger is ideal because it is a practical size for pulling pan sized fish to trophy sized fish through the hole. You can find these at the local sporting goods store anywhere from $40 – $100.
- Tackle – There are so many options out there that it becomes overwhelming in making the right purchase. I will break it down based on the three main sought after fish that can be caught on this lake:
Walleye – ¼ oz. Jig with any type of colour choice tipped with a live minnow; good for shallow or deep water fishing. A bright coloured Jigging Spoon ¼ oz. to 3/8 oz. tipped with a Minnow Head based on preference and water depth. You will mostly find these fish in 20 to 40 feet of water. Straight to the bottom is the way to go.
Crappie – 1/16 oz. Coloured Jig tipped with a live minnow or a micro tungsten coloured jig tipped with a live or plastic 2” mimic minnow. You can also use smaller jigging spoons as well. These fish can be found in back bays finding the deepest bowl of the bay in 10 – 30 feet of water.
Trout – A silver or gold coloured Spoon sized ¼ oz to 3/8 oz. is ideal, these fish are found in deeper water so it is a must to fish heavier type tackle. A white or pearl coloured plastic tube bait with a ¼ oz. to ½ oz. jig is an absolute must in trying to catch a Lake Trout, these fish are often fooled by this particular hook because of its erratic movement in the water column. These fish can be found in 20 to 100 feet of water, they suspend so they can be caught throughout all depths of the water column.
- Ice Hut – This is optional, of course! If you plan on enjoying the heat of a portable heater or bringing kids to this adventure, then it is always good to have a portable ice hut. Whether it is a place to warm up or fish stationary, the luxury of heat on those particular days makes the day much more enjoyable for you, the wife and the kids. Try to go as big as your budget can go. A 3-4 person ice hut is size enough for your gear and visitors.
- Be Safe – Always let others know where you’ll be fishing and what time you’ll be back. There are areas out there that are unsafe for fishing. Tag along with someone who knows the lake and you’ll find out right quick the knowledge to understand the importance of being safe on the ice. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the lake, they have apps that you can purchase on the smartphone – Navionics and Lakemaster are the ones primarily used in our area that will show the contours and depths of our lake and where you can locate some of the target species.
February 18, 2019 is Family Day, the community will often host a family Fish Derby during this day; they usually have awesome prizes and categories to the winners so be on the lookout for posters as this is a family affair. Try your luck and I’ll guarantee you will have fun doing so. Good luck, be safe and good fishing.
Calvin Joseph is currently the guidance counsellor at Baibombeh Anishinaabe School.