Mo on Ice Fishing
As part of our own preparations for going Ice Fishing, I wanted to learn more about what was needed for this type of fishing and what to expect whilst there and doing it. So, I went to see Mo, to have a chat with him about everything to do with the subject. Heck, did I learn A LOT! I also had the chance to look through all of his gear, to see what was needed and I took some photographs too, so I could share on here and maybe help other beginners.
Mo explained that there are over 200 lakes in the Kamloops area, so where you go would very much depend on where you live and how far you wanted to drive. A good tip from our very own fishing legend, is to go to your local fishing shop and have a chat with someone there about what’s current to your local area and if you’re not sure where to go, they should be able to advise you.
Next is the tackle. Mo advises that you should have the tools that are adequate for the job in hand. And the tools for ice fishing are quite specific.
Firstly, you have your Rod and Reel. You can buy ice fishing rods from fishing stores or places like Canadian Tire and such like. They often come in sets, but you can sometimes buy the rods separately. Ice fishing rods are short too! Around 2 feet in length or thereabouts. The contents of Mo’s reel is made up of; backing, line – mono filament, no less than 8lb) and leader. Mo states that people don’t tend to use backing but they should. It fills the reel up & is a cushion.
Mo’s favourite Ice Jigs (flies) at this time of year would be Leech, Dragonfly and Shrimp patterns, as the fish will generally be feeding on these insects in the winter time.
Okay, onto other equipment needed, to make your ice fishing trip a success;
An Ice Auger. This is another essential piece of kit, as it’s what you need to make the hole in the ice! Current BC legislation states that the hole can be UP TO 8″ wide, so an auger of this size or smaller is what you need. You can get a hand auger (this is the DIY option – good to help get you warmed up!) or a powered auger.
The following are things that are not essential, but will help you fish easier and in more comfort;
A Gaff. That is, basically a stick with a hook on the end. Used for getting the fish out of the water. As putting your hands in that cold, just-above-freezing water can be pretty awful.
A Scoop. Used for cleaning ice out of the hole you just made. Stops the hole from clogging up and means you can get your jig in and out of the water easily enough.
A Shovel. For cleaning the ice around the hole. Helps get rid of jagged edges that your line may get caught on. Look for a small one with a short handle for better portability.
A Sled. Use this for pulling your gear along the ice. Consider a couple of bungee straps to secure your stuff in place. Mo suggests not having anything in your hands when pulling the sled along the ice, in case you fall. Apart from maybe a pair of walking or skiing poles, to help you keep your balance if it is slippy.
A Tent. This is not essential, but if you wish to improve your chances of keeping warm, you may see it as essential. Primarily, a tent performs at its best when it’s protecting you from the wind. Even the lightest of breezes can dramatically decrease the temperature and increase your chances of feeling the chill.
Something to Sit on. Like a chair. Or an upturned bucket. Think about taking something that is rigid – allowing you to stand up that little bit quicker, when you hook that fish and you have to do some work and maybe something that is padded, to help you keep warm and more comfortable.
Warm clothing. Does exactly what it says on the tin! Consider layering upper and lower body and warm boots, hat and gloves. Consider Cleats/Spikes on the underside of your boots, for extra grip.
Other ‘standard’ fishing equipment that would be useful when ice fishing, includes;
A Bonker. Also called a Priest.
A Filleting knife.
A Towel. Wet, cold, fishy hands can be treated to a dry towel to improve the chances of keeping you comfortable.
Neoprene Gloves can also help with keeping your hands functional.
One of Mo’s biggest priorities when ice fishing is SAFETY. Mo always carries a Bear Banger. Not for the bears this time, as they’re hibernating during the ice fishing season, but as a means to alert others who might be on the lake, to an emergency incident. A bear banger being set off, will grab everyone’s attention immediately. Also, Mo carries a Safety Kit, consisting of an airtight orange bucket containing rope, whistle & light. These ready-made kits, can be purchased from many different outlets, such as fishing stores and outdoor stores. Mo attaches a wooden grab-stick to his rope, in case it has to be thrown to anyone who needs to grab hold quickly & firmly.
One other item that Mo always carries when ice fishing, is a Fire Starter Kit. This is useful for starting warming someone up following an incident. A fire also has other obvious uses.
Mo explains that there are different ways of ice fishing and that this can often come down to personal experience and preference. Options include slow jigging, fast jigging or keeping still. Bait options include ice jigs (flies), rubber jigs and bait; including maggots, mealworm and commercial brands such as ‘Powerbait’.
Mo’s final two pieces of advice, when it comes to Ice Fishing are; NEVER GO ON YOUR OWN and overall, ENJOY YOURSELF!
Katie, December 2012