View Full Version : Ice fishing questions
The past six years I have done a lot of jig fishing for bluegills, crappie and other pan fish. This year I want to start using tipups as well, but know almost nothing about using them. There's plenty of lakes around with lake trout, pike, and other fish I've never fished through ice before. Just wondered what some of the experienced people do.
Ice fishing is a blast. We used to use tip-ups exclusively when I lived in Wisconsin. We were allowed 3 lines - set the lines, play cards and drink beer.
We fished for walleye only - we'd catch our share of Northern Pike, but we were after walleye. So, I'll explain how we set tip-ups for them. This works for any brand of tip-up. The colder it gets, where you fish, the better tip-up you want - they are less likely to freeze up.
We used to fish about 12-18 inches from the bottom. To set the depth clip a lead 'depth finder' on you hook and lower the line to the bottom. Pull the lead up about 18-20 inches. The tip-ups we used had a vertical shaft that dropped into the hole. The spool sat about 10 inches down into the water. This will lower your line mark again - take this into consideration as follows. If you mark your line about 20 inches from the bottom and drop the tip-up into the hole, your bait will be about 12 inches off the bottom.
Use a nylon button to mark your depth. A plastic button will break when it gets cold. Find a good nylon button and slide it onto your line before you tie your hood. Run the line into one hole and out another. Friction will keep it in place. Slide the button up to the approximate depth of the water. When you mark the depth (see above) mark it with your button. Find a button small enough to go through the line guide of the tip-up. Then, when you wind up the tip-up, the button can stay on the line. Once you set your depth mark with a button, you can re-set your tip-up, after a bite, without using the lead depth-finder.
I'm not sure how far off the bottom to fish for lake trout - IIRC, they stick pretty close to the bottom - like a walleye. Northern Pike will range higher, sometimes. But, you can catch them near bottom too.
I like 'circle' hooks for ice fishing. You can't really 'set' the hook, but a circle hook just finds the corner of the fish's mouth and set itself.
Natural bait common to the lake you fish is best for lake trout. We used to use dead smelt (using a smelt hook) for pike - they could smell that bait.
Just get out there and start fishing - you'll learn a lot from watching others. For the most part, fisherman are pretty good guys. They won't tell you everything they know, but they'll probably answer your questions about equipment.
The more you fish, the better you'll get. If you have anymore questions, just post them. Go for it and good luck.
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