Getting ready for ice fishing

Ice fishing season is on the way, as hunting winds down.

Ice fishing season is gearing up near Princeton.

Ice fishing season is gearing up near Princeton.

Hunting season is quickly drawing to a close and many are looking forward to some fresh rainbow trout caught while dangling a worm, piece of shrimp or kernel of white corn through a small hole in the ice in a local lake.

The choice of bait used is important because you are only able to fish in a small area below. Your bait must bring the trout to you!

While it is still too early to venture out on the thin ice, I want a minimum of three to four inches… it is never too early to get your gear and bait ready.

Most, I’d say 90 per cent of both men and women anglers use worms, a two-three inches being the best in my opinion; now is the time to stock up and get in a good supply.

If you have a compost pile, look there. Alongside the foundation of the house, especially on a sunny, south-facing side, worms will gather in the warm soil. You can find those two-three inch long pink garden worms there well into November.

Keep the worms in a wooden box in a cool spot in your basement, bedded down in leaf mould and rich garden soil. Occasionally feed them some oatmeal and coffee grounds. Lettuce mixed in the soil also seems to be good for them.

A damp newspaper laid directly on top of the soil – how about an old Spotlight – helps keep the worms moist. I lost a few hundred worms once when I neglected to keep them damp. And don’t forget to put away plenty. I’ve never had too many worms.

A couple of ice fishing tips I would like to pass on are, keep your bobber small, and should you hook a big one, be sure to have plenty of good line.

Every year you hear about the big one that broke the fisherman’s line. So, if you have used that mono-filament line for a year, be sure to change the line. Eight pound is not too big, and will land the big one if you play it carefully.

Trout will run out line; a big one can take out 30 to 50 feet in a hurry. Let them run!

Rainbow trout are powerful fish and will break even a new eight pound test line if you don’t let them run. Don’t worry, they won’t take all your line off the reel. You hear stories about the reel, being completely emptied of line, but they are just that – stories!

This past summer many three to five pound trout were caught in our local lakes. I think we have an excellent chance to catch some even larger ones this winter!

Have you ever stepped on your red and white plastic bobber? I have, and I find it really annoying.

During the past ten years of ice fishing, I have found a good substitute. And it is very sensitive bobber too.

A regular Styrofoam thread spool, when carved down with a sharp pocket knife, into the shape of an egg, and painted orange, makes a dandy, sensitive, unbreakable bobber. Orange is great colour – you can see it in dim light – much better than the red of a plastic bobber.

In fact, I see some orange and yellow bobbers made of plastic being sold these days. Put a wooden peg in the spool hole and you have an easily adjustable bobber. People who have seem me using these bobbers ask me where I bought them.

They are effective, and there is a certain satisfaction in making your own tackle – especially if it proves better than the “store bought”.

Hope you have many “tight lines” when you go out ice fishing this winter.