Sonar for Ice-FishingBy Bob Jensen - February 1, 2007
Just as in open water fishing, certain areas will be better for fishing through the ice. You need to find those areas. To do so quickly, many ice-anglers use a sonar that looks a lot like a flashlight. A good example would be the MarCum LX-i. When you get to your general fishing area, you want to pinpoint the area where you expect the fish to be. With the LX-I, you don't need to drill holes to check the depth. You simply squirt some water from a water bottle onto the ice and put the LX-I into the water. It will instantly show you the water depth directly below. You can quickly get an idea where the drop-offs are and how the structure is laid out.
Once you determine where you want to fish, you need to pop a few holes. As the ice-fishing season progresses, you'll want to drill more holes so you can cover more water faster. The Jiffy Stealth STX is a great unit for popping a bunch of holes quickly. It has specially treated blades that allow you to drill more holes without sharpening the blades.
The transducer sends a signal to the bottom that is like an upside down ice-cream cone. As the signal goes deeper, the area of coverage gets larger. Let's say you're over twenty feet of water. Your bait is directly below the hole and shows up as a bright mark. As you jiggle your rod tip, you can see the bait move.
Now, another mark of a different color shows up on the screen. It's moving toward your bait, and as it moves toward your bait, it gets brighter. When it intersects with your bait, you feel a light tap. You set the hook and a few seconds later a fish is flopping on the ice. Pretty neat stuff.
The reason the signal was a different color is that the fish was not directly below the hole you were fishing from, it was out to the side so the signal wasn't as bright. As it moved toward your bait, it sent back a more powerful reflection, making for a brighter signal.
MarCum recently introduced TrueColor into their LX-5 and LX-3tc sonar units. These three color units do a wonderful job of showing what's down there, and they're easy to use. If you're looking for an ice-fishing sonar, you should check these out.
Just as in open water, sonar will help you catch more fish through the ice. Watch it carefully as you fish and you'll be amazed at how many more fish it will put on the ice for you.