Ice Fishing Tips: When to Stay and When to Go

Electronics have revolutionized the sport of fishing, especially ice fishing. In the old days, anglers built permanent shelters on the ice and played a game of guesses and maps to find the fish.

Today’s ice gear is lightweight and easy-to-use, and it allows anglers to hop from hole to hole quickly.

But as easy as today’s gear makes it to change locations on the ice, one question plagues every angler: “Should I stay or should I go?” Here are some helpful pointers to help you make that critical decision.

When to Move

Obviously, you’ll want to drill a new hole elsewhere if you’re not marking any fish on your electronics at your current location. It’s also a good idea to move when the fish you are marking aren’t grabbing your bait.

If you’re catching fish, but they’re small or not the species you’re after, then it’s time to rethink your spot. A few three-pound bass through the ice is great, but if you’re after a limit of bluegill for the freezer, then it’s not.

When to Stay

Of course, a full-on active bite is a sure sign that you’re fishing the right hole. When you’re catching the fish you want to catch and they’re good sized, you should definitely stay put.

Experienced ice anglers will tell you that when you’re marking big numbers of fish and getting them to follow your bait, but not commit, you should still sit tight. It’s only a matter of time before the bites start rolling in.

As any angler will tell you, fishing tends to heat up when the conditions are changing, like around dawn, dusk or when there are frontal changes in the weather. Ice fishing is no different, so keep that in mind if you hit the lake this winter.

Make Drilling Easy

If there’s a chance you’ll be drilling several holes this winter, then it might be wise to invest in a gas-powered or electric ice auger. Manual augers are great for farm ponds or single holes, but even drilling two or three holes can be tiring.

Gas and electric augers go through ice like a hot knife through butter. Sure, they’re a bit more expensive, but if you’re an ice fishing fan and plan to drill several holes, it’s a worthwhile investment. StrikeMaster’s Lazer auger is a favorite among ice anglers, as is the Sting Ray, made by Eskimo.

Watch the StrikeMaster Lazer Mag cut through more than 24-inches of ice in 8 seconds.