January 4, 2016


It's been warm so far this year, but now is the point you should start planning for one of my favorite times of the year – Ice Fishing Season. Our lakes will soon be frozen and folks will be bundled up and setting traps on the hard water. Whether you’ve never stepped foot on a frozen lake or you’re an old-school expert – here are 3 exciting reasons to get started this year. Get excited!

1) It doesn’t have to be expensive

Ice fishing can be done on the cheap! These are a few essentials you’ll need, but they are an investment that you’ll get years of enjoyment from.
          5 Ice Traps ($50 for all 5  from a surplus store) – Most lakes allow 5 traps per  person!
          Bait Bucket ($5 at an outdoors store) – Pickup a cushioned seat for the top of  your pail!
          Manual Auger ($5 at an outdoors store) – Drill fast through that ice to the fish!

2) You don’t have to be an expert

Warning: There should be no fear or hesitation! Fly fishing requires accurate placement of expensive flies and carefully reading the water. The only rule of ice fishing is that you drop a shiner down a hole and wait patiently for a flag. Admittedly, that sounds awfully simple, but those are the basics. A little research helps though. It’s great to know the depth of the water you’re fishing. Use a “sounder”, a heavy sinker, and gauge the water’s depth. Early on in the season, fish for trout near the banks, in 5-8 feet of water. At the tail end of winter, venture deeper. Learn and adapt to the particular conditions. If traps at a deeper water level are working -adjust the rest. If a certain area of the lake is counter productive, adjust everything.

Check your traps occasionally. It’s important to make sure your bait is still on the hook and still alive. To keep your shiners alive longer, thread the hook in the center of the fish and right below the spine. If done properly, the bait should remain alive for the majority of the afternoon. Also, pay attention to the tension on your traps. If you’re noticing that your bait is consistently missing without a flag being set off – try loosening (unscrewing) the tension bolt.  If it’s too tight, you may actually have a fish on! For tips on where and how  to ice fish, check out the Maine’s IceShanty.com Forum. It’s full of great information and help.

3) It’s exciting

Have fun! Plan ahead and make it an event. Buy a few groceries, bring a game or simply a few friends. The more the merrier. If you’re lucky enough to have a shack or a pop-up shelter, you’ll be able to congregate out of the wind and cold.

Lunch – Bring a small stove and heat up soup or chili, etc. Warms the soul and the  body!
Drinks  – Pass time with a thermos of spiked cocoa or a 12 pack of craft beer.
Jigging – bring an ice fishing pole and work a jig. It gets you involved!
Games – Draw out circles, like a dartboard, in the snow and have a competition to  see who can come closest to the bullseye with an empty can.  Make your own fun!
Bring Layers – If you’re warm, you have more fun. If you’re having more fun,  you will stay longer and catch more fish. It’s simple.
Check for FLAGS – Consistently check for a raised flag. Once one goes off, you very well could be chasing flags and hauling in fish all day. Be safe and enjoy the upcoming winter, folks!

January 1, 2016


Okay, so I ice fish often, and the first excuse I hear from friends and coworkers as to why they haven’t experienced the joys of being on the hard ice is that it’s “too cold.” My responses range from “Well, obviously, it’s winter!” to “Well, you’re just not drinking enough.”

In all reality, there truly are a lot of ways to keep your friends, guests and coworkers warm while on the ice. Whether they are first-timers or seasoned veterans, it truly is important to keep the comfort level high. I’ve done a lot of things to stay warm, but the most important is dressing appropriately in moisture-wicking layers. Otherwise, I’ve had a wood fire directly on the ice, warmed myself by a portable heater, sparked a wood stove on the lake, and used those eight-hour hand warmer packets. I’ve also resorted to whiskey. Here are 13 other ways to stay warm:

Front-side propane tanks will help provide an adequate level of warmth. If you can’t find such a heating method, I’m sure you’ll find a way to “Get-R-Done”.

When the air is too cold, make sure you go home and leave your shack until it begins sinking through the ice. This is your sign it’s warm enough to return to ice fishing.

Keep it small. The smaller the structure, the easier it is to heat – whether it’s a small heater or the hot air from your inflated fishing stories.

If you’re not lucky enough to find a used spsaceship, you should form a structure that looks like one. Everyone knows that a shack without a 90-degree angle stays warmer.

Have a friend pull you around the lake on his snowsled. Hopefully, you’ll absorb some of the warm fumes. If nothing else, you’ll find a better spot to fish.

Clear roofing panels will help let in sunshine, but the optional pirate flag will also help draw in the UV light. Fact.

Let in that sunshine with lots of windows! Patriotic images help, but you could also put your shack on skis and large rubber tires to give it clearance from the frigid ice.

Woodstoves will keep you toasty on the ice, you’ll almost want to prop open your door!

Keep your doors zipped up. Make sure you have what you need and stay inside. Even your body heat will help to quickly warm a small shack in a blizzard.

Place your shack where the sun is shining. It seems simple, but if you’re fishing along the wrong shore, the sun won’t work in your favor.

Anyone can burn wood on the ice, but splitting your wood on the ice will warm you twice.

Pretend you’re a real outdoorsman for an afternoon, throw on some layers and sit on a bucket (like your forefathers used to do).

A pop-up ice shack with a black roof will pull in the sunlight and help keep your shack the center of the party.