2 reasons to try ice fishing the winter

Inexpensive with delicious outcomes, ice fishing is a great activity for the seasoned auger or the family looking for a fun way to spend a winter's day.

2 reasons to try ice fishing the winter

Ice fishing gear is affordable

Fishing through the ice is a relatively affordable process that requires nothing more than an ice fishing pole, a way to put holes in the ice and some warm clothing. Most people already have the warm clothing, and buying dedicated ice fishing poles costs only a few dollars plus the nominal cost for teardrop lures and bait.

Some poles are more advanced and have reels for rapid retrieval of fish, while others are little more than short, flexible fibreglass or nylon poles that make it easy to set hooks when a fish bites and then haul it up onto the ice. Bites are detected with either small floats or a small wire that drops down when a fish nibbles on the bait.

A hand-powered auger should cost no more than $40, while petrol-powered augers can sell for $200 or more. A metal spud made of rebar with a sharpened end works well for probing the ice and breaking open iced-over holes or thinner ice and generally costs about $20.

Many popular and tasty species of fish

Fishing through the ice offers some of the best-tasting fish that can be caught. Fish generally are leaner with less fat due to the higher calorie burn from swimming frigid waters, and several types of panfish can make a great meal.

Perch, bluegill, crappie, sunfish and many other types of panfish tend to swim in schools and strike often when fishermen locate the schools at the proper depth. Pike, trout and other larger species also are popular and generally caught using tip-up equipment that fishermen set further away from their panfishing holes.

Bait usually consists of minnows, waxworms, mouse grubs and others. Some types generally work better for different species, such as using minnows to target perch, crappie and other species with larger mouths. As always, it is important to ensure the targeted fish are in season and legal to catch.

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