Outdoors: ice fishing season approaching
Driving along Mauch Chunk Road last week, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the harvested corn and soybean fields on both sides of the road had small ponds of skim ice on them from the below freezing temperatures we had. That brought to mind that the ice fishing season is forthcoming.
For those who never tried walking-on-water, ice fishing can be fun if dressed properly. Cold weather and time spent standing on ice requires insulated waterproof boots, layered coats and pants, or one-piece hunting or snowmobile type suits, warm hat, gloves and a pair of ice cleats for your boots.
As for gear, it can be as simple as you can afford. A short fishing rod or jigging rod and small spinning reel, some small hooks, a couple split shot for weight and a plastic bucket with a lid so you can sit on it and keep the gear and bait inside.
It’s recommended that the reel you use be spooled with line designed specifically for ice fishing so it doesn’t get stiff. Line such as Trilene Cold Weather, Micro Ice Crystal, or FireLine Micro Ice Crystal that provides extra sensitivity when fishing deep water is preferred.
As for live bait, wax worms or meal worms will catch something so they’re always a good bet if you don’t want to invest in minnows, which will often catch bigger fish. Forget worms or night crawlers because they may not last in the cold.
You may also want to pick up an inexpensive tip-up or two, which fishes for you and helps when you tire of sitting and jigging and want to warm your hands in your pockets.
If you prefer fishing with lures instead of live bait, buy some small ice flies or small ice fishing jigs. And get a few of varied colors.
Most ice anglers opt for an ice auger to drill the necessary holes. But if you’re an opportunist, use old holes that other anglers drilled. That may require breaking the thin ice that formed or cleaning out the slush in them. For that, a soup ladle or cheap ice skimmer can clean out the holes and keep them from refreezing.
If you wish to drill your own holes, an ice auger of the manual type (probably cost about $50) is needed. If you own a battery powered hand drill, Cabela’s sells and attachment/auger combination that transforms it into a low-powered ice auger. Or, get a digging (spud) bar. Of course there are also gas-powered augers and even high-powered battery models. But those will set you back three figures.
And when you venture out onto the ice, make sure it’s safe. Remember, the ice may be safe around the lake or pond’s edge, but as you go out toward deeper water, it may not be. This is also true of an area where a flowing stream enters it.
The Lil’ LeHi Trout Nursery has reportedly received a delivery of adult trout for next season. These are to replace some of the thousands that had to be destroyed because of a disease.