Things Learned During My First Ice Fishing Expedition

Ice Fishing Secrets IIf you follow my Twitter feed, you no doubt are aware that I went ice fishing for the first time this weekend. Despite what many people say up here (namely that “ice fishing” is code for “ice drinking”) no alcohol was involved. I do have photographic evidence of my trip, but I don’t have the cable to hook up my camera at work here, so you’ll have to wait for that. In the meantime, here’s a rundown of the experience.

  • We went to Lukfin Pond up past Philips, Maine. It’s not particularly big, but it’s not exactly pull up with your car, get out, step on the lake and start fishing. It’s more drive for a while until you get lost (thank goodness for guides!), park, walk through the woods for a ways, find the pond, and then trek across it. Still, lots of exercise–always a good thing. And I wasn’t there to just sit around doing nothing. I wanted the whole experience to see if I liked it or not.
  • Still have to get a fishing license, even to do it in the snow. $27 in Maine for the year. Not bad at all.
  • Bring ice skates. TRC, DC and Denisa had a lot of fun skating all over the place. I was very impressed with how much skating TRC has picked up and retained from last year. He fell down quite a bit, but as he explained it to me, “Falling down is all part of the fun.” Wise words. DC isn’t really skating yet, but she had a fun time being dragged.
  • Taking a 2 year old girl to the bathroom when it’s 15 out and she’s bundled in snow clothes–not so easy, and not so much fun.
  • Drilling through the ice by hand is even harder than you’d think it would be–especially  if you have librarian/author arms. The ice was about 10 inches thick right now–I’m told it gets much thicker later on in the season. That should be . . . interesting, although I was also told most people use machines to drill.
  • You can either use traps (baited lines that have a little flag that goes up when a fish bites) or jig (use a short pole with a lure at the end that you bounce up and down to make it look like a live fish). We used both. I caught my 19.5 inch, 3.75 pound smallmouth bass using a jig, and I caught it about 5 minutes after I got to the pond. Beginner’s luck in action. We caught a total of 4 smallmouth. Mine was the biggest, but only barely. We had four jigging holes and 10 trap holes out, and we only caught fish at one of the jigging holes. Nothing else anywhere. I’m told that was a slow day.
  • It’s cold, but as long as you dress warmly, it’s not bad. If you get too cold, you can always drill another hole. 🙂  Some people have huts out on the ice, or tents. Seems to me if you’re going outside to ice fish, you might as well be outside and not in a little hut.
  • Lake/pond ice can get really slick, especially in windy spots. Blows snow just grinds away all the ripples, and it’s like a sheet of glass, except there are bubbles in it. Pretty cool.
  • Every now and then, you’ll hear a huge booming sound that you might think was thunder, a gun shot, or a bass drum somewhere in the woods. It’s actually the ice expanding. You see all these fault lines criss crossing the ice, as the water beneath freezes, expands, and pushes the ice farther out.
  • Hot chocolate is a plus. So are home baked cookies.
  • Filleting a smallmouth is much different than cleaning a rainbow trout. And (although I’m still not that in to fish) I prefer smallmouth to rainbow trout. Fried. Not too bad.
To conclude, ice fishing is much more fun than you might expect. I had a blast, and I hope to get out again next weekend. It’s an excellent excuse to go outside, do something different, talk some, and it doesn’t require too many gadgets to be able to do. Highly recommended.

Leave a comment