It’s getting to be ice fishing time.  It’s not here yet, and the snow over the weekend did not help make the ice any better, but the hope is the really cold air they are forecasting will finally give the ice fishermen enough ice to finally get out there. They need more than two feet of ice to be safe. We did a little checking around. Lake Zurich had barely two inches, Lake Delevan had one-and a half inches of ice, and the Chain of Lakes still had open water. So while we’re waiting for good, safe conditions, there are a few things we can do to be prepared for a better ice fishing time.

The first thing that needs to be done is almost identical to what is done for open-water fishing in the spring. Check gear: Ensure that the pop-up is functional, that the material hasn’t been damaged from storage. Start the auger to make sure it is running clean and the blades are sharp. It is better in the garage than out on the ice. Of course, check the rods, line, and lures before that first trip.

I am remembering some advice from a Minnesota fishing guide about planning for successful ice fishing.

First, be as mobile as possible. If the pop-up is also a sled to carry gear, there are more options to move to other spots.

Second, when the spot is located, look for the fish and how they react to the bait. This has become much easier with the advent of quality locators from Vexlar. Their FL-8SE is very affordable and allows for a visual to see the fish, the bait, and their reaction and bite.

Third, do not be afraid to be aggressive with presentations. Get the attention of the fish. When it locates the bait, slow down a little and attract its bite.

Good luck out on the ice this season.  Be careful out there:

Do not go out on the lake alone; have a pair of ice picks in your pockets; make sure the ice is over 2 inches thick.

Until next time…keep a tight line.

Visit Dick at