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It’s almost here — ice fishing

December 15, 2012
By TODD REED , Times-Republican

Not Christmas! Ice fishing!!! With the colder temperatures in the near forecast, Iowans all over the state will soon be able to do the winter sport that they love, ice fishing. As of this weekend, there is no "safe ice" in Iowa to venture out on. Even the most northern most parts of the state anglers are taking full caution when getting close to the ice. In Central Iowa, we are quite a ways away from stepping onto frozen waters. However, with a little help from Mother Nature, and some single-digit temperatures, things will change quickly.

I am not sure anyone is more excited than me about ice fishing. The day I put my boat away and bring my gear inside, I am hoping for frigid weather. In heaven, I believe the day after everyone puts their boats away, the water freezes solid and ice fishing begins. At least I can only hope.

No matter how excited you are about the season, this weekend and next week is the perfect time to get ready for the ice fishing season. Here are few things to make sure your ice season will start off on the right foot.

Article Photos

Crappies and bluegills will be on all anglers’ minds once the ice is solid enough for ice angling.  These big crappies were caught after a day of drilling a lot of holes to find that one magic spot. Be safe on the ice, and remember safety is first.

Rods/Reels- Each rod and reel should have fresh line on it. It has been coiled up on that small spool for about nine months, it is not going to give you the performance that you are looking for. Any fishing line will do for ice fishing, however each angler should use the smallest pound test line that they think is needed for the type of fishing that you will be doing. Two, three or four pound test lines are great choices and will work for most species here in Central Iowa. Another thing to check is all the line guides on your rods. The smallest nick on any guide can ruin your line and in turn loose your fish. Take a q-tip and fun it around the inside part of the line guides. You will be able to tell if there are any nicks that need to be taken care of.

Auger- An ice auger is a finely tuned knife designed to cut ice. The better your blades are the less work it is to drill holes. If you use a hand auger, and fish regularly, then changing your blades every two or three years is probably needed. If you have a power auger, that is starting to cut slowly, it is due to dull blades. Having dull blades on your auger puts more strain on your auger motor and causes unnecessary wear and tear on it. Blades are not cheap, ranging from $20-$60, but are a good investment every few years.

Electronics- In the past few years, more and more anglers are turning to electronics to help them catch more fish on the ice. If you have electronics, like a Vexilar, charge it up and give it a good cleaning before the season. Mild soap and water will have it shining like a brand new machine. Check all connections and make sure cords are properly attached.

Cold-Weather gear- The weather has been so mild this month that most people have not had a reason to wear gloves or hats. The morning of your first ice fishing trip is no time to be looking around the house, garage, porch, and vehicles for those things. Get them all together and check to see if you have everything that you need to stay warm on the ice. Time used now means more time on the ice fishing!

Bait- Same as above really, the morning of your first trip is not a great time to round up bait. Do some calling around to area stores to see who has stock of waxworms, spikes and minnows.

Safety - Most importantly, get all your safety materials rounded up and put them by your auger. This way you really can't forget them. I do not go onto the ice early or late in the year without the following: long rope, flotation device, ice picks, ruler to measure the ice, and a buddy. (don't make him/her sit by your auger though) These things are mandatory in my mind, because first ice is often the best ice, but it is also the most inconsistent ice of the whole winter. Please, remember these two things about ice fishing; first, it can be the most enjoyable fishing all year, and secondly, no ice is safe ice.

Getting your gear in tip-top shape will allow you the chance to hit the ice as soon as it is ready for ice angling. The DNR suggests at least four inches of ice to allow safety for ice anglers. Be safe out there and enjoy the ice when it comes.


Contact Todd Reed at and



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