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Ice fishing is the sport of catching fish with lines and hooks or spears through an opening in the ice on a frozen body of water. Fisherman may sit on a stool on the open expanse of a frozen lake or sit in a heated cabin on the ice, some with bunks and amenities.

equipment:Icefishing gear is highly specialized. First, an ice spade, saw or auger is required to cut a circular hole or larger rectangular hole in the ice. Power augers are sometimes used. A strainer is sometimes required to remove new ice as it forms.

Three main types of fishing occurs. Small, light fishing rods with small, brightly colored lures, or bait such as mousies, may be used in jigging for fish. Tip-ups, which carry a line attached to a flag that “tips up” when a strike occurs, allow unattended or less-intensive fishing. The line is dragged in by hand with no reel. In spear fishing a large hole is cut in the ice and fish decoys may be deployed. The fisherman stands over the hole while holding a large spear attached to a line. This method is used for lake sturgeon fishing on Black Lake in Michigan.

Spearing through ice is one of the oldest and most ingenious fishing methods of the Native Americans of Wisconsin. On some Western Great Lakes reservations, including that of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe in northern Wisconsin, people have continued winter spearing to the present day and have retained many traditional methods. The preparation of a fishing hole has involves the transportation of tools and supplies out onto the frozen lake usually by sled, clearing of deep snow from the fishing site with a shovel, cutting the hole itself, and the removal of chunks of cut ice with a skimmer. For centuries, Natives have relied on chisels to cut holes in ice for winter fishing. From the fur trade era to the mid-twentieth century, ice chisels came in a variety of shapes and sizes, including those with wide and narrow blades. Early blades were made of native copper and later blades were made of iron.

Natives used two types of spearing tents before the early 1900s. One type was seven-feet tall and allowed the fisherman to sit down with a long-handled spear extending outside the framework of the tent. The second type, still used today, is a crawl-in type which covers about two-thirds of the fisherman’s prone body. It is designed for use with a short-handled spear.

The manufacture of handmade, wooden fish decoys is a time-honored craft in those Native communities where traditional winter spearing prevails, and each community has developed its own unique style of decoy carving and decoration. Fish decoys usually are made from local woods, with basswood being most popular at Lac du Flambeau. They are made to simulate most anything that might make a meal for a game fish, including frogs, birds, muskrats, local bait fish, and the young of local game fish.

The making of a fish decoy requires a great amount of care and precision. The curve of the tail must allow the decoy to swim accurately and its weight must ensure proper flotation. In conventional practice, fishermen lower fish-shaped decoys into holes cut through the surface of a frozen lake. The fisherman lies flat on the ice, covered by a dark tipi, and readies his spear to stab the approaching prey.

Becoming increasingly popular is the use of a flasher. This is a sonar system that tells you the depth of the fish, which can be useful when trying to catch them. There are also underwater cameras available now. These allow you to view the fish and watch how they react to your lure presentation.

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2 Comments

  1. No ice fishing for me cause it is too friggin cold! :-p

  2. then you can go ice fishing in summer. all you need is a glass full of ice and a gold fish 😉


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