Learning to Love Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is pretty low on my list of favorite fishing-related activities – it’s somewhere below handlining blue crabs and slightly above not fishing at all. But my last two trips on the ice have started to change that.

On one trip, I fished Lake Winnipesaukee for white perch with fishing guide Tim Moore, and on the other I fished for smallmouth bass and yellow perch in Massachusetts with Captain Rob Taylor. The common thread between the two trips was the absence of tip-ups and the presence of electronics.

ice fishing jigging bass electronics massachusetts

Taylor watches the screen for fish approaching his jig.

Last week with Rob, he’d brought out the Lowrance Elite 5-HDI that he uses on his boat and paired it with a Lowrance Ice Fishing Pack. The pack includes an ice transducer and float, and a weatherproof carrying case with room for batteries and a charger.

It was the first time Rob had brought his electronics onto the ice with him, and was clearly enjoying watching the fish react to his lure.
I took a few turns as well. I could clearly read my jig bouncing along the bottom when, occasionally, a solid yellow-red bar would slide off the bottom to give it a look.

ice fishing electronics massachusetts lowrance

Rejected: A smallmouth takes (the thick yellow-red line) a close look, but ultimately refuses, a bouncing jig (the thin black line).

Unlike a flasher, the Elite 5HDI left a short history on the screen, so you could see just how you were working a jig when a fish swam up or decided to bite. That day, an aggressive cadence drew the most attention, but slowing down and deadsticking is what triggered the most bites.

Rob spotted the fish of the day on the sonar before he hooked it. He was working the bottom with his jig in 35 feet of water when, 20 feet off the bottom, a big mark appeared. He quickly reeled his jig to that level, bounced it twice, and hooked a bruiser largemouth bass that put up a serious fight on the micro-light jigging rod.

ice fishing largemouth bass electronics

Taylor spotted the big bass 20 feet off the bottom on his electronics before reeling up and getting the bite.

After some pictures, Rob sent the bass back through the ice and said that without his electronics, he’d have never seen and probably wouldn’t have caught, the big bass.

We fished until sunset, catching smallies and perch, and by the time I got back to the truck after a full day on the ice, I decided that frozen lakes and cold winters might not be so bad after all.

For more on Ice Fishing with Electronics:

Ice Fishing Electronics

Ice Fishing Strategies for White Perch

 

  1. marko

    You don’t need to promote Lowrance electronics (or any other gear) to enjoy ice fishing.

    Reply
  2. Philip Caron

    Wow! What an amazing product driven article on ice fishing! No tip-ups? Just jigging with $300 equipment………

    Reply
  3. LEO

    IF I NEED ANY ICE FISHING GEAR I GO TO —- BACK COUNTRY TACKLE.COM GREAT SITE TO GET THE TOP STUFF WHEN IT COMES TO ICE FISHING. HOPE THIS HELPS GUYS.

    Reply
  4. LEO

    THAT REMINDS ME , FOUR FORTY OUNCERS OF MILLER HIGH LIFE AND A RACK OF SAMBUKA NIPS. OH YEA, A STICH KIT SO WHEN I FALL ON THE ICE AND SPLIT MY HEAD OPEN ILL BE READY.

    Reply
  5. Ron F

    Wow! So much negativity! I enjoy ice fishing with and without electronics, old school and a little modern tech. Here in New Hampshire we can use 6 lines on General Rules lakes so some guys set 5 traps and use a sounder on the 6th. Seeing activity around a jig can be a high and a low, you know something is down there but not liking you rig. Try putting about a dozen short self-tapping hex head screws in the bottom of each of a dedicated pair of ice-fishing boots, don’t wear them into the house. ( and less booze!)

    Reply
      • Ron F

        No, but you won’t scare them away like you will if you slip and bang your butt or head on the ice!

        Reply
        • Ron F

          Besides you don’t want to be like Gronk and out of action for a week. Also not good for any equipment you might be carrying at the time you slip. Maybe Mass should require helmets for all on ice activities.

          Reply
  6. Ted E

    I’d vary the number of screws depending on your target fish, maybe 10 in the front and 8 in the heel for large fish. Moving down to 3 in the toe and 3 in the heel for small panfish. Like everything in fishing don’t be afraid to experiment and keep a journal.

    Reply

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