STOP Ice Fishing - START Angling On Ice - Part 2

By Dan Anderson - January 1, 2001
For maximum success, there are four fishing styles that should be used throughout a winter season. They are jigging with an ice rod, tip-up fishing, fishing out of a shanty, and remote monitoring. An angler on ice is equipped for and will use all through a season, while an ice fisherman only utilizes one or two of these styles. A specific style is selected during advance planning, based upon the species being fished, along with physical and environmental factors. The physical and environmental factors weighed include time of the ice fishing season, features of the body of water, and the weather for a specific outing. Using a planned strategy leads to more success and enjoyment as the angler on ice is not hindered by weather, limited lake access, or varying ice and snow conditions.

In last month's issue Part one explained the Jigging with an Ice Rod style. In this article we will examine the Tip Up Fishing style. Part three will cover Shanty Fishing, and Part four will detail the Remote Monitoring style.

TIP UP Fishing
Applying this style, the ice fisherman places tip-ups in all of their allowable ice holes. Live bait is the rule. Every 15 minutes tip-up fishermen need to check each hole, skim ice that has reformed, and raise the tip up to stimulate the bait fish. Bait fish attached to the common tip-up will tire quickly from fighting the resistance of the line and become dormant. Using an underwater camera I observed this dormant state occur in as little as 10 minutes. Additionally, when night fishing the tip-up fisherman is kept busy in-between rounds by having to frequently shine a light at the tip-ups to see if a flag has raised.

As with the jigging style, the vast majority of tip-up fishermen stay in one area. In fact, this style of ice fishermen is even more inclined not to move off their original location.

An angler on ice doesn't let themselves or the bait fish become dormant. They use heated, automatic jigging units at all of their allowable holes. These units have a heat exchanger, electronic jigging system, and dual mode strike indicator. The heat exchanger uses candle lamp oil (environmentally safe) for fuel. It circulates warm air throughout the interior of the unit. This heated air keeps the ice hole open and all components free moving. During a strike, the fish won't feel any resistance from line freeze or cold slow moving tip up components.

Automatic units are equipped with a variable electronic jigging system. You can set them on intermittent jigging, which automatically stimulates live bait every 30 seconds. The past two seasons, I checked this jigging system many times with an underwater camera. To my amazement even after using the same bait fish for over two hours, there was an explosion of activity upon completion of a jigging cycle. This action clearly gains the attention of game fish. But even better, shortly the bait fish begin to tire and look like a sick or wounded fish stimulating the food chain.

Moving the selector switch sets the unit on continuous jigging which is used with dead bait presentations. This setting gives action, flash and transmits oily fluids that attract game fish. Herring, smelt or large shiner head with innards is great for scavenger species like northern. For those limited times when still bait seems to get the fish, the jigging system is turned off.

By just adding a planner board release clip or clothes pin to the jigging arm the stroke can be set from 2"-10". This allows for flexibility in the presentation for fishing different species. Units have adjustable drag settings from ultra light to heavy action.

There's a flag indicator for daytime strikes and a red light indicator for nighttime strikes. For instant "fish on" notification a pager alert system is optional. With these features you can't miss a strike day or night.

An angler on ice initially rigs each unit with different bait presentations. This results in quickly identifying what the fish like that day. Since the units operate maintenance free, the angler on ice uses their electronics (within allowable distances) to search for other fish. If they are see a flag, red light or get paged they will return to the unit, set the hook, bring up the fish and identify what type of bait was hit. The other units will then be rigged with the same bait presentation, as they now know what's hot for the moment. However, if fish are found at another spot and there haven't been any strikes from the original location, they move their units. After this move, the angler on ice again begins to search for other active fish. Using these automated fishing buddies you can cover a body of water quickly to locate fish. This procedure along with the unit's features, like jigging and no resistance upon a strike, dramatically increases fish catching.

During the winter season, anglers on ice will use all four of the styles for fishing. They will select one based on the species, time of the season, body of water, and the weather conditions that are present for an ice fishing excursion. Using proven specie techniques along with the proper style of ice fishing can take you from being just an ice fisherman to an angler on ice. Look in upcoming issues for coverage on the other two styles of ice fishing.

Good Fishing!

Author Dan Anderson
Dan Anderson
Editors Note: This is part 2 of a 4 part series. Click here to read Part 1
Dan has examined ice fishing practices including the methods used by ice fishermen, their purchasing habits, safety values, and success rates. He's arranged ice fishing strategy in an easy to utilize method for increasing production and is the originator of the "STOP- Ice Fishing and START- Angling On Ice" concept using four styles of ice fishing and three methods for traveling light throughout a season. Dan's also a seminar presenter, director of the Ice Pro Team for Finicky's Fish Factory, and licensed guide.