Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink… because it’s all frozen! Time to discuss the most controversial of wintertime fishing adventures…. ICE FISHING… Love it or hate it, ice fishing is certainly one way to keep fishing through the winter. The basics of ice fishing include walking (or driving) out onto a frozen lake, drilling a hole in the ice, drop your bait down, then wait for the nearly frozen fish to swim by. The water is so cold and the fish’s metabolism is so slow that these are the most lethargic fish you will find. In fact just detecting a bite is one of the biggest challenges, after staying warm of course.
If you’re not going to move south, ice fishing is the only fishing available for 3-4 months out of the year for some northern sportsmen. You might not believe the lengths some folks take to ice fish in style. You can be as elaborate as you want with your setup.
Some people just bring a chair:
Others bring a portable shelter – with room for all your friends so you can stay out of the elements.
And a few even have custom ice fishing houses complete with satellite dishes, TV’s and full kitchens.
Some stretches of ice turn into cities! How about this city on the ice?
Why would anyone drill a hole in a frozen lake and sit around waiting for some nearly frozen fish? First, fishing is the most relaxing way to spend the day (that’s our story and we’re sticking to it!). Second, given it’s stationary nature, it’s a great excuse for some excellent food and drink. Since there are a thousand articles on augers, fishing rods, spring bobbers, bait, lures, and even underwater cameras we’ll focus on the other essentials…chow and beverages. When it comes to provisioning your outing break it down into snacks, meals, and drinks.
Preferred snacks are a selection of easy to grab favorites. We’re partial to homemade jerky, peanuts, pb&j, crackers, cheese, and chips. All of them are quick to eat, salty, and they go great with beer (maybe not the pb&j)! But let’s face it, if you’re partial to a pimento-cheese sandwich or pickled pigs feet we won’t judge. The meals are frankly much more important. The first necessity for a proper ice fishing breakfast or lunch is a grill. Any grill will do but something compact with at least two burners is best. Something like this Coleman;
Once you have the grill fired up it’s time to cook breakfast (right after making some coffee if your thermos is already empty). You can go with the classic bacon and eggs or go all out and add some cheese, potato, peppers, chorizo, and tortillas to make breakfast burritos. A breakfast burrito is easy to eat one handed while fishing and you can set it down if you happen to get a bite. Pancakes are also on the menu, some pre-made batter and a bottle of syrup is all you need. Moving on to lunch, our hands down favorite on the ice is the hamburger. We all have our favorite toppings and seasonings and there is no reason not to enjoy that delicious piece of americana and start daydreaming about those warmer summer days ahead. A solid second choice is grilling up your favorite braut. If you’re looking for a few more creative options you can consider grilled (fresh) fish, fish tacos, chili, pre-seasoned kabobs, and last-but-not-least, grilled cheese and tomato soup.
Now that we have food covered don’t forget the drinks. The absolute must-have is a high quality thermos like this Stanley Classic.
In the morning bring a thermos of coffee or cocoa, no explanation needed here. But as the day goes by you need to remember to drink water. Even though it’s cold and you’re not sweating the air is very dry and dehydration is a factor. Now that we’ve touched on common sense, let’s cover some more exciting beverages. Tied for most popular are whiskey and beer. You probably have your favorites of each so we won’t argue the merits of our favorite spirits and brews. Stick with the ones you love and they’ll make you feel warmer and the fish look bigger. Win, win. Another good way to warm up is to bring some sugar and cream to go with your coffee and whiskey to make it an Irish. Your ice shed may be one of the few places that peppermint schnapps is ok to enjoy too. If you’re a south of the border type and fish tacos are on the menu, tequila is the way to go.
Remember the alcohol only makes you think you are warmer, it actually has the opposite effect. So be responsible and always keep safety in mind – after all, you are standing on a slab of ice, in freezing conditions, likely on a deep lake or river with holes drilled all around.
So, when it comes to ice fishing do you love it or hate it? Send us your take to [email protected].
With all those options for having a fun day outside why not give it a shot. Besides, depending on where you live, finding your next adventure might mean drilling a hole in the ice!
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