Ice Fishing Relieves Winter Woes

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Todd Partin pulls another nice bluegill through the ice. (Photo: Bill Konway)

Todd Partin pulls another nice bluegill through the ice. (Photo by Bill Konway)

Staring down through a six-inch hole drilled in the ice for hours on end waiting for a fish to bite may not sound like fun to some, but for those of us who can’t wait until Spring arrives to feel a tug on the end of our line, ice fishing is the answer.

Ice fishing offers anglers the opportunity to wet a line in winter, while potentially hauling in a mess of great tasting fish. I love fish fries. If there’s a special occasion that calls for food, you can bet I’m suggesting we heat up the oil and batter up some bluegills. I don’t know if it’s biologically correct, but fish caught from colder water seem to have firmer meat. Bluegills through the ice are one of my personal favorites for eating.

Over the last couple of weeks, temperatures across Mid-Missouri have been cold enough for ice to thicken to safe levels on many area lakes and ponds. I have been on the ice a few times in the last week, and have found ice up to four inches thick. Remember though, utmost caution must be applied when heading out onto ice covered waters. Always thoroughly check the ice you plan to fish before committing to moving your party and all your gear out on it.

Ice fishing is a great pastime for many reasons, but one of the main reasons I enjoy it so much is because it allows you to get outside and spend time fishing when most people aren’t even considering the possibility. Ice fishing is a pretty simple endeavor. Only a few tools are necessary, including: an ice auger, fishing pole with line, hook and bait, and a skimmer. The ice auger is for drilling holes in the ice, which are then fished through. Special ice fishing poles are beneficial for fishing close to your hole, but regular fishing poles will work if you do not want to invest in special ice fishing gear. Skimmers are for taking chunks of ice out of the water inside your fishing hole.

The actual fishing is pretty easy. Lower your bait down through your hole, and work it up and down to find the depth fish are holding at. I generally drop my bait all the way to the bottom, and slowly jig it up and down. If I don’t have any bites soon, I bring it up a couple of feet and continue to jig. Fish are often near the bottom, but they also suspended at different depths around structure.

For bait, worms, beemoths, and minnows are favorites of many ice fishermen. More savvy ice fishermen use jigs and some even use fly fishing flies for bait. When ice fishing for bluegills, I have had most of my success using a small, flashback jig tipped with a beemoth. I catch most of my crappie on minnows.

Some ice anglers fish from a shanty, which is a tent-like shelter used to protect you from the elements. These are nice for staying warm, but limit scenery and natural exposure. Depending on how much weather you are willing to take, fishermen may just sit out in the open. If it’s not too cold, I prefer to be out on the ice so I can set a few poles a little distance apart and monitor where the most action is taking place while enjoying the beauty of a winter landscape.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler


Read about an ice fishing trip to Lake of the Woods, Minnesota you need to take.


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