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As well as having all the right gear, it’s also important to know how to use it, where to use it and the best time to use it. This article will help to explain the best spots to fish on the lake, how to drill a perfect hole with your ice auger, the types of fish to look for and how to get them to bite.
When Is The Best Time To Fish?
Of course, the best time to ice fish is during the coldest months. The ice fishing season is at it’s peak during January and February.
December can be a bit risky due to the ice not as being as thick. However, some fisherman do fish during this month. Unfortunately, it does take time for the lakes to freeze, on the flip side, it also takes a while for them to melt, one day of sunshine won’t melt the ice!
March can also be a month of fishing, however, temperature begin to warm up. Make sure to check the ice thickness to ensure it’s safe.
So, if you’re looking to ice fish, January and February are the best times to go. However, depending on the ice thickness, December and March may also be an ok time to go.
In regards to the time of the day, most fish are at their active peak during the early morning and early evening hours. Therefore, getting to the lake early is essential, set that alarm (or 5)!
Although these are the ‘best’ times, it doesn’t go without saying that fishers have also had some great catches outside of these hours.
Where To Fish On The Lake?
Once you arrive at the lake, you’ll be thinking, where is the best place to fish today? If all you’ve got is your set of eyes, it’ll be a guessing game. However, if you have an electronic fish finder, this will make life a lot easier to locate the fish.
If you’re going with the guessing game, there are a few hints and tips to help locate the fish. Depending on what you’re fishing for, some fish prefer shallow waters, whilst others like to feed at the bottom of the lake.
It is very important to know the structure of the lake you’re fishing on. This can be found on the lakes map or having the knowledge from previous outings.
The most important parts of the lake to look for are;
Points – This is a structure of land that juts to a point.
Breaks – A dramatic change in-depth that fish like to inhabit.
Humps – Also knowns as ‘underwater islands’. This is a build up of sand or dirt that create small mounds.
Saddles – A deep part of the water that gradually builds up to a shallow part.
Weed Lines – A build up of heavy vegetation. Inside weed lines are a build up in the shallow areas and outside weed line is the build up of weed in the deepest areas.
Rock Piles – Exactly as it says. Build up of rocks. High chance of fish congregating these areas.
Fish are not as active in the winter, therefore if you dig a hole and it seems very quiet, move on and try somewhere else.
As the winter gets colder, it becomes more difficult to fish and they have to adapt to their environment. I have followed these tips and have had success doing so.
Early Season Fishing
Fish these structures in the late fall/early winter and winter/early fall:
– Rock Piles
– Inside Weed Lines
As the fishing season is in full flow and the lakes become more frozen. The fish tend to swim and feed deeper as there is more oxygen. Consider fishing these areas at this time;
– Outside Weed Lines
Basic information like this will help you decide where to drill your first hole. This could be the difference between having a successful day or not.
What Type of Fish To Fish For?
The majority of fish you catch throughout the summer will likely feed and be there in the winter, the only difference being, the lake above them is covered with ice.
There are many species of fish that can be caught throughout the US. Far too many to write about. Therefore, we’ll focus on the most common and best catches.
The most common fish caught in North America are Bluegill, Largemouth Bass, Burbot, Walleye, Smelt, and Muskie.
There are several other species that are less common and exist in our lakes. Species such as catfish are rare catches in the winter months as they like to live and feed in warmer waters. Therefore, they tend to live in lakes that do not freeze over.
If you’re interested in researching all the species, there are several fish databases online that are easily accessible.
How Do You Dig A Hole To Fish?
You’ve probably realised that ice fishing isn’t as easy as turning up to a lake, removing some ice and the fish are there waiting… it’s far more complex then that and takes some work.
In order to get those fish, you’ll have to drill a hole through the ice.
In order to drill these holes, you’ll have to use either a manual or powered ice auger drill.
To drill a hole using a manual auger, you will have to place one hand on top and one hand on the bottom. Slowly turn the drill and you’ll begin to pierce the ice. Keep turning until water starts to appear. Once the waters appears, stop and your hole will be complete. Depending on the thickness of the ice, this process can take some time.
The powered auger is a gas run machine. It will remove the manual labor of turning the auger and drill the hole for you. The only recommendation for using a powered auger is to have some experience or knowledge of using similar machine powered tools.
The process is very simple, turn the engine on and apply slight downwards pressure. These augers are very powerful and can drill the hole in seconds.
Is it worth buying a powered auger over a manual? That’s entirely up to you. It may save you time and energy, over a long period of time this could be super beneficial.
Most fisherman like to drill a dozen holes. This gives them the opportunity to move around and chase fish that swim in shoals. Of course, if you’re using a manual auger, drilling this many holes may become tiring, therefore you may be limiting yourself to the the number of holes you drill.
There are some other alternatives to a manual or powered auger. There are adapters that allow you to convert a manual auger in to a powered auger. Using this adapter with a drill (one from your shed) and an auger will allow you drop the manual labor. This is the adapter I recommend.
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