When a Summer Angler goes Ice fishing!
Ending one season, starting an another
Day after day and hour after hour, last year offered some amazing moments on the waters.
With a backpack full of memories, I’m thinking back to the times with heavy rain and hard winds. The days with clear blue skies and burning sun have colored my evenings and weekends.
We just recently celebrated the New Year’s Eve, and I found myself staring through the window at the piles of snow that covered our backyard. It was so freezing, even the thermometer was sluggish figuring out the temperature. Minus ten… Minus twelve… Those summer nights suddenly felt so far away.
I’ve never been much of a winter angler actually. I tried to recall when was the last time I even considered getting out there. For me, for a very long time, the winter season had been a temporary period of longing and setting up the gear for the 5th time for that first spring fishing trip.
But we all can change, right?
My strength - that sometimes turns into my weakness as well – but which in overall pushes me to develop positively as an angler, is intensiveness.
When I’m determined to learn or experience something new, I easily take a very intensive approach to it. As this time as well, staring through that frozen window… I just could not let go of the thought of getting out on that ice. I wanted at least to try to experience the great winter fishing my friends had been talking about all those years. And to do it with an open and determined mind!
I opened the squeaky old door to our shed and soon realized that the fifteen-year-old ice fishing gear wasn’t in that good condition anymore. Using it would risk me losing a potential big old grandma!
I made a quick call to my good friend Jimmy and got him interested in my new obsessed idea. Jimmy had his own gear, and everything was in set and ready for him, of course. As we all know - when an angler gets a new idea, the situation calls for a trip to a local tackle shop.
And this time was no exception. As I eagerly skimmed my way through the new Rapala ice collection online, the choice was easy. I had heard so much good about it from my friends and fellow anglers.
Since I don’t have a broad experience on ice fishing gear, I will not be heavily comparing the Rapala equipment to other brands, but more and less relay and build my opinion on the knowledge I’ve got from my non-ice fishing experience. I know what I’m looking for and the Rapala ice collection really sums it all in one place.
A couple of days later I found myself on the floor opening the packages and inspecting my new items. They screamed high quality and super fresh design. I must admit, that I was eager to hit the ice!
Cracking ice and the Rapala Fathom
We woke up to a cold and quiet morning. As we were unpacking our gear from the car after the arrival, the dark spots on the ice caught our attention. We heard a soft but dark cracking sound and looked at each other. “Ha-ha, is it going to be safe, mate?” I asked. “No worries buddy, its only the top layer, man”, my friend replied.
Since the weather had continuously changed during the week, we now had a soft top layer on the ice. The water levels where pushing the ice towards the shore and making some really mysterious sounds.
One of the most important things when being on the ice is a trustworthy pair of ice claws. I just bought the Rapala Pro Guide Ice Claws EU which feel smooth and comfortable around my neck. They have an adjustable and elastic neck lanyard and soft grip handles. They truly are a good and cheap life insurance.
As we were drilling our way through the ice, the sun had almost come up. Under us was first ice, and then four meters of water. The lake we were fishing was quite small and had a maximum depth of about six meters. A rumor told that some monster pike were swimming there…
We were just about to rig our last rod, when suddenly a clear ringing bell reached our ears! I was the first to stand up and run as quickly as I could. My Sufix line was flying off the new Rapala Fathom reel. I only waited a second or two before making a hard and swift counter strike.
The Rapala Fathom rod bowed really nicely. The feeling when the rod kicked back and worked as you were fighting the fish was impressive.
The rod has a solid glass fiber blank with a blank through handle construction. It has aluminum oxide guides, EVA handle and a hook keeper. It is classed as a heavy action rod and with a length of 120 cm I think it’s a very good rod with a bargain price.
We landed a pike with beautiful patterns. What a feeling it was to catch a well-fed pike on my first day with the new equipment!
Ice jigging while waiting
Many anglers are really into jigging. For some of us, it is the only winter fishing style that counts.
Just as my obsession for the spring, summer and autumn fishing. I thought it was quite fun to experience this. But on that day, we were only jigging as a backup plan while waiting for the bells.
We quickly made a couple of holes with my new Rapala UR Steel Foldable ice drill. It is a lightweight and portable drill with a super sharp blade that easily cuts through the ice.
Jimmy was eager to check out my newly bought jigs. I will not be going into too deep about the jigging theories, lets save that for another article. But the Rapala R50 Perch Combo that comes with a rod, reel and a Sufix line is really nice!
I opened my lure box and showed Jimmy the new Rapala Snap Raps, Jigging Raps® and Flat Jigs®. They are lures with great design and color range, so I am pretty sure a lot of anglers will feel confident with these jigs on their lines!
During this session, we only managed to catch some small perch on the vertical jigs. It’s a fact of fishing that you can only catch the fish that are in the area and this day was a small-perch day.
A learning experience & pack list
I sat down by the fire, warming up my fingertips near the flames. I started to wonder: this wasn’t that bad, right?
When you consider going ice fishing, I recommend that you get yourself some warm clothing. Also pack something hot to drink during the day. If you plan to make a camp fire, take matches or a lighter, a knife and an axe with you as well. A cozy camp fire will definitely lift the mood on a cold day.
I don’t recommend ice fishing when it is colder than -10 degrees Celsius. This is because of the health of the fish: unhooking, scaling and measurement taking happen above the water, and this increases physical stress on the fish.
Rapala has an Ismete Combo Bag, which is an excellent multifunction bag. You can and carry all your rods in it, but it also doubles as a release mat. Use it to insulate your catch against the snow and ice.
Remember to wet the bag first and keep the eyes of your fish away from the snow, slush and ice. This is because the eyes of the fish (and the skin) are sensitive to freezing. Act as fast and tender as you can when taking the measurements and releasing your fish will go nicely.
For the rods and reel, I recommend you a rod about 120 cm in length and a low-profile reel with a high standard super line or a nylon line. As I told you before, I used the Fathom Vertical Ice Combo from Rapala.
Since I don’t fish during the coldest conditions, I prefer to use the new Sufix 131 line which has an outstanding resistance to water. if you are going to fish during colder conditions, try Sufix Ice Magic line.
And of course, always put safety first! Check out the ice before stepping on it and always have your ice claws around your neck. Keep a spare set of dry clothes in your car, just in case.
I was really satisfied with the day as a whole. Ice fishing is a fun and quite exciting way of fishing. The running and the ringing bells, the shorter and lighter rods with aggressive fights… I definitely changed my mind a bit about this, and I’m aiming to get out there again as soon as I can!
I hope you enjoyed reading this and I wish you all good times out on the waters!