Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Winter Fishing In The Midwest

Well it is the middle of winter, and if you live in or

are visiting the upper Midwest region, practically

the only option for fishing is to go ice fishing. First

of all the most important thing is to make sure you

are dressed properly. The best way to keep out the

extreme cold and icy wind chills is to layer your

clothing. I start with long underwear, followed by

a regular flannel shirt, a quilted flannel shirt , two

pairs of pants, two pairs of socks, the outer pair

being heavy wool socks, a pair of heavy duty

waterproof boots and a heavy winter coat. If

you are going to be out all day there is such a thing

as a snowmobile suit which is like a very warm

jump suit that covers your entire body. If you

want to go more high tech, there are electric socks

that run on batteries and operate on the same

principle as an electric blanket. Of course a good

hat and heavy duty gloves are a must.

Now we will go into the equipment you will need.

First of all an ice auger. There are hand cranked

augers and power augers. Hand cranked augers

are fine, but if you encounter very thick ice your

arms might end up like an Olympic body builder.

Next a large bucket to haul your fishing gear in

and turn upside down for your seat, and an ice

scooper, which looks like a large spoon with holes

in it, used to scoop ice chips from your fishing

hole. Ice fishing poles are much shorter than

regular fishing poles. The reason they are shorter

is that you are going to want to be sitting right

over your fishing hole so you can see when the

fish comes up. You can find these poles in any

good sporting goods store or tackle shops.

Instead of using regular fish hooks, have an

assortment of ice fishing jigs. Many of these are

brightly colored which will attract the fish in dark

and murky water. The ice fishing baits I find work

best are minnows, spikes (also known as maggots)

and wax worms. Lower your bait down slowly

until you find the bottom, then raise the bait up

6 to 12 inches from the bottom. Jig the bait up and

down. If you are fishing very deep waters, I would

suggest lowering your bait about 20 feet down and

slowly bring it up, jigging all the while. Fish in the

winter are sluggish and move slower, but they are

still hungry. If you are planning to stay out for a

long period of time, I would suggest investing in

an ice fishing tent. These come in many different

shapes and styles and most are very easy to set up.

In the far northern reaches, some people even

build an ice fishing shanty which they just leave

out there until the spring thaw starts to happen.

If you are like me, an avid outdoors man, I just

have to get outdoors no matter what time of year

it is or what the weather conditions are.

Good Luck and Happy Fishing!