How To Get Started Ice Fishing And Catch Your First Walleye

by Ben Jackson

Even though ice fishing can be a challenging and rewarding winter activity, it’s not one that everybody ventures into. For those who aren’t afraid of getting a little cold and wet, however, there are few activities more enjoyable than ice fishing. It’s so popular in some areas that there are even tournaments held just for ice fishers. If you’re interested in learning how to get started with this fascinating pastime, keep reading.

How to Get Started Ice Fishing

The first step towards getting started ice fishing is preparing your gear. Make sure you have everything you need before the ice forms, such as an ice auger or a hand auger, a fishing rod and reel, a fish finder, a portable ice shanty, a portable heater, etc. Before you go out and purchase the latest ice fishing equipment, make sure you know what you need. Many beginners make the mistake of going overboard with the amount of gear they bring, as well as the price of that gear. It’s also a good idea to consult with other ice fishers about what works best in your area. If you’re fishing in a large group, you may want to bring along extra tackle, and even extra ice fishing seats.

Equipment You’ll Need

Whether you’re new to ice fishing or a seasoned veteran, it’s important to make sure you have the right equipment for the job. Starting out, you may want to bring along some extra tackle, just in case, as well as a few other items that ensure your trip is safe and enjoyable. Ice Fishing Rod and Reel – You’ll need a sturdy, reliable ice fishing rod and reel set-up, complete with a line and a hook. You can purchase these items in a kit, or build your own. If you choose to go the kit route, make sure it’s designed specifically for ice fishing. Lines – You’ll also need to stock up on fishing line, whether you go the kit route or build your own. You’ll need at least two types: one for your reel and one for your tip-up (more on that later). It’s a good idea to bring along a spare spool, in case you break it. Also, make sure it’s rated for ice fishing. Hooks – You’ll need hooks for all your lines, as well as for the tip-up. Make sure you have a variety in case one size doesn’t work in your area. It’s a good idea to bring along extra bait as well, in case you need to change it out. Bobbers – If you’re fishing with a bobber setup, you’ll need to bring along some extra bobbers. They’re prone to snapping, especially in cold weather. Make sure you bring along bobbers that are rated for ice fishing. Other Gear – Other gear you may want to bring along includes ice cleats, a portable heater, fishing gloves, a first aid kit, binoculars, a flashlight, etc.

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Tips for Newbies

It goes without saying, but ice fishing can be very dangerous. It’s important to take the proper precautions before going out on the ice. If you’re new to the sport, there are a few things to keep in mind. Take a Beginner’s Course – Before you go out on the ice for the first time, whether you’re with a group of experienced ice fishers or not, you may want to take a beginner’s course. Many tackle stores offer courses in ice fishing, as do parks and other sites where people ice fish. Go with a Group – Even if you’re an experienced ice fisher, it may be a good idea to go with a group. You may also want to consider bringing a first aid kit with you.

Ice Fishing Basics

Before heading out onto the ice to fish, you’ll want to be familiar with the basics of ice fishing. There are a few different styles of ice fishing. You can also mix and match different techniques and equipment, based on the type of fish you’re targeting and conditions. Hand-Held Fishing – This is the most common type of ice fishing. Here, you’ll simply stick a line and hook a few inches above a bobber, and then drop your line through a hole in the ice. Tips-Up Fishing – This is exactly what it sounds like. You’ll set up a flag, called a tip-up, and attach a line to it. When a fish bites, the line will go taut, pulling the flag up. You’ll then have to manually reset the flag once you’ve reeled in the fish. Trotline Fishing – A trotline is basically a long line, sometimes hundreds of feet long, with a series of hooks along it. You can place this line across a lake or stream, or along the edge of your ice-fishing hole. You can also place multiple lines in a single hole, or in a row along the ice.

Where to Go Ice Fishing

As with most outdoor activities, it’s important to know where you can go ice fishing, and where you can’t. You can find information about ice fishing regulations in your area, including the type of fish you can target and other rules, by consulting the website of your state’s fish and wildlife department. You can also check with your county’s website about local rules and regulations. It goes without saying, but you should always be sure to check the thickness of the ice before going out, and when you’re leaving. If you’re unsure, don’t go out on the ice. The last thing you want is to fall through and have to call for help.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When you’re just starting out ice fishing, it’s easy to make a few mistakes. Here are a few things to keep in mind, in order to avoid making common mistakes. Falling through the ice – This is never a good feeling, and it’s one that you want to avoid at all costs. It’s important to be sure about the thickness of the ice, and if you’re not sure, don’t go out on it. If you do fall through, don’t panic. Instead, try to remain calm and keep your hands above your head. You don’t want to get frostbite on your hands. If you have a line and reel (or a trotline), you may want to use it to pull yourself out. Fishing in a prohibited area – This can result in a hefty fine, as well as the loss of your fishing license. You can avoid this scenario by checking the regulations in your area before going out on the ice. If you see drilling or blasting in progress, stay away from that area. It’s likely a mining company is blasting for ice.


Ice fishing is a thrilling pastime that anybody can do. It’s important to remember that safety comes first, and that you should always be sure to check the thickness of the ice before going out onto it. Once you’re out there, make sure to follow all the basics and have a good time. When you’re ready to go ice fishing, make sure you have all the necessary equipment and know the basics of the sport. You can also check with your local fish and wildlife department to learn about ice fishing regulations in your area.

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