Guest blogger, professional fishing guide, Tom Neustrom, shares early ice fishing report, tips and techniques to ensure a successful ice fishing season. It’s another season upon us and getting ready and preparing for the 2018-2019 ice fishing adventures is an all important ritual that will be essential to have fun and be safe on the ice.
Week of 11-26-18 Grand Rapids Ice Fishing Report
The early ice fishing season has started in the Grand Rapids area with walkable and fishable ice on several of the smaller lakes. Reports coming in that there is between 3-6 inches of ice. Like anytime on the ice, one must be extremely careful at all times especially on early ice. Spearing for Northern Pike is happening up on Lake Winnebegoshish, at Third River and Bowens Flats. Panfishing has started on Little Splithand Lake, and some of the smaller lakes north of Grand Rapids. For Panfish try a small tungsten jig with a wax worm, and utilize your electronics to find a depth where they are located. For Walleyes try a quarter ounce jig and spoon with a minnow head or a number 5 or 7 jigging rap, and a minnow head attached to the treble.
Early Season Ice Fishing Tips
With the cool crisp mornings and ice forming on area lakes, it’s time to prepare. Where do I start?? Most often you put away your tackle without stripping line from your rods and reels. Replacing line is the first step and it will be important to do so. Fill your reels with premium mono-filament or braided line to insure a fresh start. Take a small amount of gun oil and apply a few drops to the spool shaft and bail spring connections. It will make sure you have smooth operation throughout the cold water period.
Make sure you start your ice auger and replace spark plug when needed. I like to drain gas and fill with new to start the season. There is nothing worse than getting out on the ice for the first time and having an auger that doesn’t start. Check your blades and replace any that have nicks or gouges in them. Make sure the screws are tight for optimum performance. The new electric auger craze is upon us and there are several versions that are available. The Strikemaster 40 V, with forward and reverse, is the top of the line in electric augers. At 24 pounds it is also the lightest and most powerful available.
When it comes to portable shelters there are few things to make sure you are ready before venturing out on the ice. For many reasons little critters like mice love your fish house. They cause unwanted damage and have a tendency to chew holes in the fabric. Repair holes or take your fish house to a qualified canvas shop. Otherwise you will need a bigger heater!! Check the poles on your house and make sure they are sliding properly. Don’t oil or spray the poles, but apply small amounts of lip balm to connecting edges. This will insure proper sliding of the poles for long periods of time. Again a little maintenance before season will be your best friend.
When venturing out for the first time, especially when it’s early ice, take a spud and chisel hits in front of you as you walk. Four inches of ice is good enough for foot travel, but don’t even attempt to travel with snowmobile or ATV until the ice is at least 6-8 inches thick. Wear boot spikes that are easily slipped on and off. It will minimize falls that may cause tough injuries. Some anglers I know wear knee pads and elbow pads when out on the ice to insure bad injuries from happening. For more information on Ice Safety check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Ice Safety page.
Ice Fishing With Children
Having kids out on the ice is a great and fun experience and we all want them to enjoy the adventure safely. Take a tip and put a life jacket or a life belt on them and have each one wear it when out on the ice. For some who drill 10 inch holes a small child could fall through easily. Children are adventurous and additional safety is and could be a life saver. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources now is a great time to teach kids about ice safety. Check out their their On Thin Ice article.
Ice fishing is a great winter activity and being ready and safe will make it a positive memory for all.