Ice fishing can be can be a lot of fun and the thought of possibly hooking into a lunker walleye or two can hide the dangers that may lie ahead.
The first and utmost important tip I can give you when ice fishing for walleyes or any other fish is to be safe, and think of what you are doing.
We know that first ice can be a great time to find walleyes still in the shallows chasing down minnows before the cold sends them deep.
Ice Safety Tips
- 2” of ice is not enough to support one person and their gear
- 4” is getting better and should support approximately 200lbs.
- 5” can support up to 800lbs. a snowmobile is possible (small group)
- 8-12 “ the ice is now very supportive and should support a small car (safe for a group)
- 12+” should be able to support heavier vehicles and groups of people and their gear
This is clear new ice, white ice or snow ice is at least half the thicknesses of clear ice. If possible check with any outfitter in the area, check the weather, many times the ice can be deceiving check ice thickness for yourself as you move onto the hard water
A group out on the ice, fishing in close proximity of each other, it is easy not to think of the weight it can create with2-4 or more people on the ice with all their gear. Back to the first tip, think before you go (knowledge=success & safety).
If 4” can barley hold one person and his or her gear what chance does 4-6-10 people have fishing together on this ice?
Last word on ice safety…planning on being safe is never a waste of time, it takes seconds for tragedy to strike, and then it is too late to plan…
Ice Fishing Gear
- Gear for being safe on the ice like floating devices, ice crawls for each person
- Some type of device for making a hole, whatever this may be make sure it is sharp
- Gas if needed
- Fold up car shovels are great for clearing deeper snow…pending the day and lake
- Minnow bucket and live bait various sizes if possible no bigger than 4”
- A variety of ice fishing lures in various colours…pending the clarity of the lake, brighter and fluorescent more stained the water, more natural colours clearer the water is
- Ice shanty or hut, or some type of wind break if the wind starts to pick up it can get cold
- Charged battery for sonar units
- Something to clear the hole from ice build up
- A fold up chair…ice fishing chair…many smart devices on the market today that incorporate minnow buckets and more into one device
- Ice fishing line rather that plain monofilament line…trust me on this one
- Of course something to pull or carry all of this, pending your age everyone but you…
- Your rods and reels
- Energy for drilling holes
- Did I forget something? Let me know leave me a comment
- Lantern if fishing into the night and maybe a heater
As many times as I’m on the hard water it never fails, you see someone that is not ready for where they are, I now just laugh as I continue on my way.
You need to dress for the weather and then some, don’t take the weather for granted. If your ice fishing for walleyes you are bound to be fishing well into the night, and when the sun goes down the bite may pick up but the cold sets in, real fast.
We had been fishing for about 5 hrs and the sun during the day made it a great day on the ice and coats were open and the gloves were off. The sun went down and I am afraid I was not ready for it and paid the price, I had to leave I had no choice I would have frozen death. True story, so beware, back to first tip, think before you go, dress properly.
To find fish it might take up to 10-20 or upwards of 50-100 holes before you find walleye or even baitfish. Be ready to drill many holes if you are expecting walleye for supper.
Fish a foot to 20 inches off the bottom. Fishing for walleye in pike infested water, get ready to lose a few offerings has using a steel leader can be a big turn off for walleye.
Remember first and last ice is best for fishing, mid winter can be hit and miss, but still worth looking for some deep flats hovering on mud and gravel would be ideal places to start looking.
If able to use one or two lines mix it up, one with a minnow and bobber combination and one with “Williams ice spoon” or any other favourite lure. Fishing with more than one of you, mix it up and cover some water or ice, mix up your presentations as much as possible until one finds something that is working (for your safety never ice fish alone).
Drill holes prior to night time if you are planning to fish right into the night, saves time and a lot of frustration, plus no noise to scare of your walleye.
Jigging with and 1/8 ounce or a ¼ ounce ball jig is my all time favourite no matter what time of year it is slow or fast but it is always my first choice ball head jigs.
Then of course if it isn’t working tipped with a minnow I will start looking through my ice fishing tackle and use something a bit different something new, something old perhaps or something I have never used before.
Let the fish tell you what they want…