Top Tips for Winter Fishing
Ice Fishing or Open Water Angling in Cold Temperatures
When winter brings plummeting temperatures, snow, and ice, some anglers retire to their fly desks. or catch up with what’s new on their favourite tackle and bait site. Others bundle up and go fishing, like the owner of this website.
Cold winds, ice, and snow keep some anglers indoors, dreaming of good times in days to come. Some fishermen, however, have to fish. They can travel to warmer climes in search of skinny water and tropical fish, or they can join the hearty souls who still put lines in the water when there’s snow on the ground.
Ice Fishing Requires Planning
Hardwater fishermen actually look forward to long, cold periods when their favorite lakes freeze up. As soon as the ice is a solid four inches thick, they are out there with their shanties. Ice fishing is a tough sport, and not because the fish won’t bite. This sport requires thought, planning, and careful execution.
The obvious challenge is safety. Ice fishermen can’t let enthusiasm overwhelm judgment. The ice is ready when it’s ready and not a day or an hour before. Successful ice fishermen are patient folk. When the ice is sound, the next difficulty is selecting a good spot. Since augers must be used to drill through the ice, it’s not so easy to move from place to place.
Fishers rely on familiarity with the body of water. They know where the deep holes are and where underwater structure lies, which are the areas they target. Moving the gear out to the chosen location isn’t easy, either. Ice that will support people may not hold up under the weight of a loaded van or pickup truck. Shanties and tackle must be carried out and set up.
A whole lot of work takes place before a line ever enters the water.
Once all the preparation is complete, the ice fisherman can settle down and fish. Just like any other day spent fishing, results can vary. However, when an angler has a dozen perch laid out for a bragging rights photo or hauls a big pike up through the hole between his boots, all the work is worthwhile. Mid-winter or not, the hearty ice fisherman catches fish.
Fish Moving Water in Winter
When the ice isn’t solid, or the angler isn’t an ice fishing fan, there are still places to fish when snow is on the ground. Rivers will still have open water; even it there is a skim of ice at the bank. Catching fish in these conditions is especially satisfying. There is something about pulling in a trout or bass when the weather is cold enough to keep most people indoors watching TV, making even the smallest fish seem like a trophy.
Since river fishing requires repeated casting, all but the most die-hard or fishing-deprived anglers will have a better experience if the air temperature is above freezing. Few people have the patience for repeatedly removing ice from the guides with stiff, nearly frozen fingers. Temperatures occasionally warm for a few days at a time, even in the middle of winter. Fish will be slower to strike, but they will respond. There can even be insect hatches on those just-above-freezing days, and fishing tiny midges and surface flies may bring unexpectedly good results with trout. Bass will probably be hanging in deep, sheltered holes. Fishing deep and slow might lure one into a voracious strike.
Visiting online fishing forums and seeing photos of anglers with their winter catches is pretty convincing evidence that fishing doesn’t have to wait for spring. Even if the fish don’t bite, there is still the beauty of winter scenery on the lake or river to be enjoyed, along with the great feeling that comes from spending a day outdoors, whatever the weather.