Chill Fishing Report

Cody Hill

It’s beginning to look a lot like…early ice!  Our 10-day forecast has good ice making conditions and I expect a lot of people will be fishing by Black Friday.  This is the time of year to get your gear inspected for your first trips out on the ice.  It is an important time to check all your gear to make sure it is in good shape, runs well, nothing is missing, and most importantly it still fits!  

A few of our amazing local shops are having some last-minute deals on much needed gear and equipment.  For example, Gene’s Sport Shop in Perham is having First Ice Event on November 22 where they have some amazing sales on everything you might need for your first trip. If at all possible it is best to support our local Otter Tail County businesses.

Early ice has a lot of risks, but it also has some great rewards and that is why it is one of my favorite times of the year.  One can usually get around easy on foot, you can drill a lot of holes with little to no effort, it is usually warm enough where you don’t need the big and bulky fish houses and if you find the fish, they tend to be in bigger schools holding to structure. 

Safety is the number one thing you need to think of when ice fishing and you need to be on heightened sense of security on first ice.  When I get onto the ice I have some key gear on to protect me incase something happens and I strongly suggest you do too.  The number one thing I have on is my Eskimo Ice Suit because it has Uplyft Floation assistance in case something happens, and I fall through.  

There are lots of brands out there but making sure you have a “Float” suit will help if something happens.  

Second thing is I have ice picks around my neck to help me get back onto safe ice if something happens.  You jab the picks into the ice and it helps you get back up on top of the good ice.  

Third is my Spud Bar or Chisel and every step I take I hit the ice twice with the spud bar to make sure I have safe ice.  Keep an eye out for different colors of ice and it can change from one side of a crack to another.  

Fourth and this may sound silly, but I will never go onto a new body of water especially early ice solo.  I travel with a fishing partner that follows my route and has an emergency throw rope on them incase something happens.  I talk often about making memories while fishing and it is important that you take steps while ice fishing to keep making memories that will last a lifetime.

If you haven’t fished first ice before there are things, you need to be aware of that you might not know about.  We all grew up with someone telling us you must be quiet, and the fish can hear you and early ice they can hear you walking around on the ice and will leave the area if you are walking around too much.  Therefore, I like to find structure and try to stay as still as possible as I fish.  

I like finding standing weeds especially if they are very isolated.  I tend to find the fish will move from one batch of weeds to another throughout the whole day and it if I set up on structure sooner or later fish will come to me and if I’m on the right spot new schools will keep visiting me throughout the day. This becomes “easier” if I have groups near or around me being loud and moving around a lot on the ice because the fish will feel it and avoid them and hopefully come to me.  

I don’t often fish with tip ups but when we do on first ice it is important to not come running into a tip up on first ice.  The fish that just hit that tip up can sense you coming and will spit the lure out and swim off in a high rate of speed.  If you take your time and slowly come up to it the fish is less likely to spit your lure increasing your rate of hook ups.

Christmas is coming sooner than a lot of people would like to admit and if you haven’t found that person who has everything the perfect gift a fishing trip is a great idea.  Kids will be out of school soon for break and it’s a fun time to get the kids out of the house and away from technology for a day on the ice.  

Gift certificates make great stocking stuffers, and it is an excellent way to make memories that will last a lifetime with your family and friends.