Do you love big bluegill?
From here on in, there's likely to be a certain amount of good-natured bantering going on between the members of BBG, regarding the sport of ice fishing. And while I would guess that the majority of folks here are not active on the hardwater, there are still a few diehard ice heads among us.
I've been thinking a lot lately, about what it is that drives a person to take up ice fishing. And while I can't speak for anyone else here, I do believe that I have isolated a few components that make the experience special for me.
I think the biggest thing, for me, is the time factor. I'm self-employed, have been for years, and I work a lot during the warmer months. A 55 hr, six day workweek is the norm, with many weeks exceeding that number. There are no vacation days, sick days, personal days,or paid holidays. As a sole proprietor, if I'm not there I'm losing money. In addition, like most of us I have chores and projects outside of work. This year, I finished my folks' cabin, built a fish cleaning station, cut all the firewood for three families, and totally revamped the sugarhouse for maple syrup season. And that doesn't include the regular chores such as mowing, brushcutting, clearing dams, etc.
I don't list this stuff hoping for pity, as a great deal of it is self-inflicted. I'm merely saying that I don't have a lot of free time for fishing during the warmer months. And to be honest, my ponds and my fish are showing it. They both need my attention.
But the cold months are another story. My business is seasonal, so I can reduce my hours. All of the summer projects are finished, (hopefully), there is no brush or grass to mow, and things slow down.
I'm not finished yet this year, but I can see the end of the tunnel....just a little more and I'll be done.
So for me, ice fishing means having the time to simply go fishing, without feeling guilty about it, or thinking my time might be better spent accomplishing something more material. There is a lot more to it of course, and as I get time I will add to this discussion by listing the other qualities that attract me to the hard water lifestyle. In the meantime, if anyone would like to share what they enjoy, or do not enjoy about ice fishing feel free to do so....I would enjoy reading it.
Thanks Ken. I build the box from 1/4" plywood and 3/4" oak for the runners. I modified it with external rod holders over the years so I could store my flasher when I started using one. It has a little open storage box right behind the lantern compartment that you can keep gear in. I can't take credit for the design, my stepdad built a couple of these over the years.
Quit an outfit Mike truly set up right.
They kinda go together just have to downsize.
On to some other reasons I enjoy ice fishing. ...serenity, all ready mentioned by a couple guys. It's just peaceful out there. No whipping the water to a froth with my casts, or walking along the bank looking for active fish. I have a few boats available, but I'm a bank fisherman....and ice fishing allows me a freedom I can't experience without a boat during the warmer months. All areas are accessible, (if safe), and I'm free to go anywhere I please. Not limited by the length of my casts.
I normally fish alone, which is not a good idea when fishing the hardwater, but I simply like the peace and quiet, and the unhurried atmosphere. Ken is correct in that many public BOW will develop shantytowns as the season progresses. I've been there, and witnessed the groups of people, the dogs, radios, barbecue grills...it's like a tailgate party on ice. No thanks, I'm not out there for socializing, I'm there to fish!
With today's modern gear, I can be warm, and mobile.....and that's important. If you have the gear that makes it easy to move, then you will move...if you don't, you're much more likely to sit over that same hole all day, catching one here and there if you're lucky. You have to move to find the fish. I travel light, with all my gear in a one man flipover shelter in a sled. When the bite slows, or I need to move to find the fish, I just start walking, pulling the sled behind me.
I think too many people get turned off by ice fishing just because they are not properly equipped. If you're warm, safe, and catching fish, what's not to like? And take it from me, it's possible to do all three.
I have always loved ice fishing....just don't get to do it but every six or seven years in the Mason Dixon area! Just blows my mind when a good fish comes up through the hole.
I know what you mean...I've caught Bluegills, redears, largemouths, channel cats, trout, walleye, crappie....all under the ice. The notion that fish quit feeding during the cold months simply isn't true. They may slow down at times, and there will be high pressure days when the bite gets tough, but that just makes pulling a toad gill through the hole that much more rewarding in my book.
Thank God for modern conveniences and there improvements as time goes on.
When I started out, I didn't have an ice rod, sonar, or even an auger. I wore my insulated coveralls, chopped a hole with an axe, and used my open water rod/reels. I used a plumb weight to find bottom, and a tiny ice float held to the line with a bit of a toothpick .Just hoped I picked a spot that had fish underneath me.
I remember getting my very first "Schooley" ice rod, complete with spring bobber tip. I think I paid $8 for it, and after using it a few times I was convinced that this was the absolute pinnacle of ice fishing technology. Wow!... Built in bobber, no need for the plumb bob, a stand to hold the rod up off the ice, man I was in hog heaven!
Then I bought my first auger....double wow! No more axe blade skipping off the ice, watching cracks shoot out from under your feet, and dropping it down the hole to be lost forever....
Then came a sonar unit.....inline reels..... specialty ice fishing clothing, gloves, and boots.....flip over shelter.....sensitive graphite rods......tungsten jigs.......cleats for my boots......
Now, I'm upgrading stuff. Better augers, more versatile sonar..............
My dad and I just started ice fishing a few winters back, doing it a lot like you described how you started, though we did get an auger last year, before we had to go with a friend who had one. No sonar so, like you did, we pick a spot, find bottom, and hope fish are there. I got my dad a ice spinning combo, but I'm still using some ice rods from a garage sale with golf tee pegs to wrap the line around (we've got some of those tooth pick pegged bobbers) It works alright since the water we fish is pretty shallow. Right now we just stick to the couple places we know how and where to catch fish.
I haven't got in to it enough to take it as serious as open water fishing, so for now anyway, it's just a way for me to scratch my fishing itch before spring, especially after hunting season winds down. It's definitely a different ballgame but it's something I've come to enjoy and look forward to each year. That was the one great thing about last year's freezing winter. I got to ice fish more than ever even being away from home at school. First outing was in January and got to go out into March. Whereas the first couple of years we did it, we were lucky to get out 2 or 3 times.