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Fishing When It Is Freezing

Comradery, the thrill of reeling in a big catch and creature comforts can be found on the ice.

Although many people think of fishing as a warm weather pastime, the colder version of this favorite activity has gained popularity in Northern regions. As with fishing in the summer, ice fishing is as much about comradery as it is about the sport. It can range from being as basic and pure as a hole in the ice with a line and a stool, to an ice house with amenities and the latest high tech gear.

“Here in Minnesota, it is cold enough to go ice fishing from mid to late December through February,” says Jay Rasmusson, General Manager of MarineMax stores in Minnesota.

But a successful ice fishing trip requires much more than cold weather. Most people need a little shelter during a day of ice fishing and can rent a small shanty. Fishermen and women who want a truly comfortable experience can rent a furnished fish house, Rasmusson explains. Many of these fish houses have all the comforts of home: generators, heat and television. Some have bunks for overnight stays.

Some resorts even provide fishing poles and minnows when you rent a fish house. “All you have to do is show up,” Rasmusson says.

“You do want a good rod and reel. You use a more compact rod for ice fishing than regular fishing. It is shorter and the reel is smaller,” he notes.

Some people like to use tip-ups when ice fishing. These small devices dangle bait in the water and a spring loaded flag “tips up” once a fish bites, letting you know when it’s time to get to start reeling. Take it to the next level and you can also purchase tip-ups that will alert you on your smartphone via Bluetooth technology.

Just as with summer boating, there is a variety of electronics you can purchase to assist you in finding the perfect spot and the fish. Combination units include GPS and lake contours programmed into them.

And don’t forget an auger to cut a hole in the ice! You can choose from gas-powered, propane and battery powered augers. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, lithium ion battery augers are lighter and easier to get out on the ice but they are not as powerful.

Safety is a big concern when ice fishing. Rasmusson recommends novices fish with someone who has experience, whether a friend or a hired guide, to ensure a safe and successful trip.

Check the state’s DNR website before your fishing trip to make sure the ice is thick enough for safe fishing. Dress appropriately: layers, hats, waterproof boots, and gloves. Pack hand and feet warmers.

Pack for emergency scenarios: You should carry a warm blanket, a long rope and a personal flotation device just in case someone should fall in the water.

Make sure your fishing hole isn’t larger than 8 inches to ensure no one falls in. And, mark your hole with a stick or other marker at the end of the day to warn other fishermen not to step in the hole the next day.

With a little planning and common sense, you can enjoy the thrill of reeling in a big catch and time spent with friends and family even when it’s freezing.