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Q:
I live near Chicago and winter always hits hard around here. That being said, there is usually never any shortage of ice. Any advice on gear, techniques, etc. for a first-time hard water fisherman?

Question by maynardtl8. Uploaded on October 16, 2012

Answers (5)

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from dave00100 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

There are lots of products out there catered to ice fishing, and you can rack up a large bill rather easily. I'd say that before you go spending copious amounts of money on gear, find out if you enjoy being on the ice first. My initiation to ice fishing was the Meredith Derby several years ago in New Hampshire, and I was with friends with ice tackle. If you have any friends with ice tackle, try their tackle out before buying.

For a simple setup without proper ice fishing tackle, I started with an old no-name $20 4'6" ultralight rod and Shimano Sedona reel. I snapped the rod off a few guides from the tip and had a rather sturdy short rod. Rigged with cut bait and propped on a forked stick in the snow covering the ice, it was a good beginners ice combo. Also get a few small jig heads and start vertical jigging.

I invested in a simple 5' ice breaker (Home Depot). I didn't want the ice auger until I knew that I'd actually be doing this on my own all the time. A large metal ladle comes in handy for scooping out ice chunks and water once you break through the ice. Make sure your boots are waterproof because when youre chipping ice and finally break through that water is going to gush right up onto your feet!

Once you find that ice is for you, buy a few tip-ups and save up for an ice-hut!

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from Drover1 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

You can pick up a couple ice-fishing rods for cheap. I’ve converted broken full-sized spinning rods for ice use by taking 2 to 2.5 feet of the tip section and gluing it into the handle. I use my regular lightweight spinning reels for ice fishing – just change to lighter line and mount them on the short poles. You’ll want an ice auger. A hand auger is fine, although a lot of work if the ice is thick. Watch craigslist and you probably can find a used one. If you get into it, you’ll eventually want a portable shelter, but to start you can get by with a 5-gallon bucket and a boat cushion for a seat (and some warm cloths.) I use a cheap plastic kid’s sled to haul my gear out onto the ice.

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from Sourdough Dave wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

I guess to best respond we would need to know how many lines each fisher can have, are tip-ups allowed or just jigging, is live bait allowed, etc.

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from danno77 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Comb through your local Craigslist listings under sporting goods. I find a lot of great deals from Old Timers who have decided to "hang it up" and get rid of all of their gear. Otherwise if you haven't done much fishing, I would start with some less expensive options like a hand auger until you are sure you want to invest some dough on it.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

You don't need much to enjoy ice fishing in Chicago. Just get a manual ice auger. Make sure it has razor sharp cutting blades and six to eight inches is sufficient for fish in that area. For blue gills, use maggots on a tiny jig and let is sit just above the bottom. Drill new holes until you find fish. For pike, use small minnows. You can use cheap tip ups and have a ball.

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from dave00100 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

There are lots of products out there catered to ice fishing, and you can rack up a large bill rather easily. I'd say that before you go spending copious amounts of money on gear, find out if you enjoy being on the ice first. My initiation to ice fishing was the Meredith Derby several years ago in New Hampshire, and I was with friends with ice tackle. If you have any friends with ice tackle, try their tackle out before buying.

For a simple setup without proper ice fishing tackle, I started with an old no-name $20 4'6" ultralight rod and Shimano Sedona reel. I snapped the rod off a few guides from the tip and had a rather sturdy short rod. Rigged with cut bait and propped on a forked stick in the snow covering the ice, it was a good beginners ice combo. Also get a few small jig heads and start vertical jigging.

I invested in a simple 5' ice breaker (Home Depot). I didn't want the ice auger until I knew that I'd actually be doing this on my own all the time. A large metal ladle comes in handy for scooping out ice chunks and water once you break through the ice. Make sure your boots are waterproof because when youre chipping ice and finally break through that water is going to gush right up onto your feet!

Once you find that ice is for you, buy a few tip-ups and save up for an ice-hut!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drover1 wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

You can pick up a couple ice-fishing rods for cheap. I’ve converted broken full-sized spinning rods for ice use by taking 2 to 2.5 feet of the tip section and gluing it into the handle. I use my regular lightweight spinning reels for ice fishing – just change to lighter line and mount them on the short poles. You’ll want an ice auger. A hand auger is fine, although a lot of work if the ice is thick. Watch craigslist and you probably can find a used one. If you get into it, you’ll eventually want a portable shelter, but to start you can get by with a 5-gallon bucket and a boat cushion for a seat (and some warm cloths.) I use a cheap plastic kid’s sled to haul my gear out onto the ice.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sourdough Dave wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

I guess to best respond we would need to know how many lines each fisher can have, are tip-ups allowed or just jigging, is live bait allowed, etc.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from danno77 wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

Comb through your local Craigslist listings under sporting goods. I find a lot of great deals from Old Timers who have decided to "hang it up" and get rid of all of their gear. Otherwise if you haven't done much fishing, I would start with some less expensive options like a hand auger until you are sure you want to invest some dough on it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 25 weeks ago

You don't need much to enjoy ice fishing in Chicago. Just get a manual ice auger. Make sure it has razor sharp cutting blades and six to eight inches is sufficient for fish in that area. For blue gills, use maggots on a tiny jig and let is sit just above the bottom. Drill new holes until you find fish. For pike, use small minnows. You can use cheap tip ups and have a ball.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post an Answer