Ice fishing season is upon us
Outdoors , By Dave Sartwell, Correspondent
Gloucester Daily Times
Now that the cold weather is back in earnest, it's time to get out on the ice, cut a few holes and jig up some fresh fish.
Ice fishing is a fairly uncomplicated outing where a minimal amount of equipment can produce some surprisingly large returns. With a little thought and preparation, can be a great outing for the whole family.
The first difficulty in ice fishing is getting down through the ice. A good iron bar chisel works very well when the ice is not too deep. Hard, deep ice can be sliced through pretty quickly using a power auger, but they are fairly expensive and are only appropriate if you are going to fish a lot during the winter. If you use a hand bar, attach a line to the end. A lot of chisels have been lost on that final stroke when the ice gives way and the whole rig heads for the bottom.
There are several productive ways to set up for fishing through the ice. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.
Tip-ups work great if you are going to drill and fish several holes at the same time. Because you do not need to tend to them all of the time, they are great if you are bringing the kids along. They allow you to start a bonfire, cook hot dogs or marshmallows, etc. When the flag pops up you walk over and hopefully pull up your fish.
However, if you are really serious about catching fish, jig fishing will out produce tip-ups almost every time. They do demand continuous involvement of the angler. Making jigs is very easy and can be a great activity to do with young folks before you go on your fishing adventure.
Take a piece of hardwood that is about an inch and a half wide and cut it into pieces about 15 inches long. Take a jig saw or coping saw and cut a small u-shaped notch on both ends around which you are going to wrap your line. Drill a small hole near one end through which you are going to thread your line and knot it securely to your jig. Let the kids paint these with their own designs. It is a way they can claim ownership of their own rigs.
Wind about a 100 feet of 12-pound. test mono onto these jigs end to end, and then tie on about 10 feet of fairly heavy duty fluorocarbon leader material. A rubber band works good to keep the line on the jig sticks when they are stored in the tackle box.
I like to use a size 6 hook or smaller, even when fishing for large fish. During the winter, fish usually move slower and attack the bait with less vigor, so we want the terminal tackle to be as non-visible as possible. Attach a one or two-ounce jig to the line. Put a piece of five-inch long cut sucker, a shiner or other bait on the hook.
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