Forgive me for the lateness of this post– it actually took place over Christmas 2016, but I figure its still worth sharing the adventure. So over Christmas, Dan and I decided to go to CT to visit my parents and family dogs: Jade (Husky), Charles (Shih Tzu), and Rocky (Chihuahua).
Had to include a picture of these guys; they’re too cute. Anyways, be as it was winter time, for the first time Dan and I decided to take up Ice fishing. We scoured the internet for information on what we would need and set off to Cabelas. Hardest part about trying anything new, by far, is looking like an idiot the first time. While we were there, we were lucky enough to meet a gentleman named Rotha (just a friendly customer!) who decided to take us under his wing and give us the low down on what we truly needed, and good spots to go. So we grabbed the equipment based on his suggestions and headed to a place called Hurds Lake in the small town of Somers.
Oh man, to be back in the midst of good ole fashion rustic American beauty. The lake was mid-sized, and walkable from shore to shore. Surrounded by nothing but forest, it was really breathtaking. Note, its recommended at least 3.5 inches of ice to be considered safe for people to walk on. So as we set out, we drilled a hole with the auger every 10 feet or so to be safe. People actually die by falling through the ice, so it’s no joke. First thing we noticed is a strange loud noises as well echoing throughout the scene. As it turns out, the sound of ice cracking/settling is really unique! Here is a random youtube video where you can hear it. I had no idea what it was until I looked it up!
We set off digging our holes with our 6-in diameter handheld auger. It basically screwed a hole into the ice. It was a lot easier for Dan to use the auger, being 6’2, because the trick is to spin the handle while applying downward pressure. I, at 5’0, was sweating my ass off. We also wore chains/crampons with our shoes to prevent falling. Winter clothing (parka, insulation layer, base layer, gloves, hoods/hats) were also necessary because it was COLD!
From there, we used our metal scoop to scoop out all the ice shavings from the hole to prevent it from refreezing or trapping our catches. We had our buckets both to sit on, and to carry our equipment in (including bait). We used a technique called “jigging,” which, similar to the regular fishing technique, you drop a line in with a jig attached (in this case, a really, really small one) to the ground, reel in to a few inches above the bottom, and simple bounce the bait up and down in your hand. The grip is a little different for ice fishing because you want your index finger actually touching the rod portion above the reel for better sensitivity.
Let me quickly explain the rod. So for ice fishing, generally the lighter weight the better. The rods used for jigging are really small, so we went with an ultralite version. I can’t remember the exact brand, but I will post it up here when I get the chance. Additionally, from Rotha’s advice, we used a 3lb test line. Seems REALLY light, but with ice fishing, the reel in is a lot of finesse and the 3lb line will absolutely alert you when there’s a bite. We used a neon orange color that we could see inside the holes.
There’s a closer snapshot of what it looked like. Jigging itself can be fairly tedious. We spent approximately 10-15 minutes jigging a hole before moving onto the next one, and traveled from close to shore all the way to the center and beyond. We didn’t exactly have the most luck, but as beginners, its expected. For bait, we used spikes and mousees.
After long last, we pulled out this little perch. Pretty little thing! We called it a day after letting him go, and headed back home. It was a really cool experience learning how to ice fish, and even better that no matter how small, we did in fact snag a fish!
We felt pretty good about ourselves at the end of the day (though we were total icicles), and couldn’t wait to get out and try it again. Learning a new skill is always so much fun. I would encourage any angler to go out and try ice fishing, and if you’re in the eastern US next winter, let us know, and we’d gladly go out with you and let you use some of our stuff!