By Bob Jensen
Where I live, it’s too cold to go open water fishing and not cold enough to make ice for ice fishing. So I think about open water fishing and ice fishing. Following are some of those thoughts.
For many of us, there’s a social aspect to ice fishing. Spending time with friends is an important part of ice fishing. I think that’s where the popularity of those big ice fishing wheel houses came from. I remember when they were first introduced and what they’ve evolved to. Ice anglers wondered if “those things” would ever catch on. They did catch on. Heaters, microwaves, and stoves became part of the ice fishing experience. So did televisions in the wheel house that allowed us to watch football games and other televisions hooked up to underwater cameras that showed what might be looking at our lures. Conversations, card games, chili and brats became important parts of this style of ice fishing.
Then I think about the catching a fish idea behind ice fishing. For many of us, catching a fish is one of the main reasons that we go fishing, and experience has taught that to increase your fishing success through the ice, you need to be moving around looking for the fish. That is best done from a portable ice shelter. Portable shelters today are warm, roomy, and can be pulled from hole to hole easily. Clam is the pioneer in portable shelters. They have something for any angler who wants to increase their catching by being mobile on the ice.
Next my thoughts go to the outerwear that many of us rely on when we go ice fishing. Again, when they first came out, many of us wondered if those expensive bibs and parkas would catch on. They did. The folks at Ice Armor vigorously tested different materials and construction and designed clothing that makes it possible for us to be comfortable on the ice in some pretty nasty conditions.
My recollections then turn to open water fishing, and those thoughts take me back to my early days of fishing on small rivers. These small rivers that I waded were where I learned much of what I know today about river fishing. The most important thing I learned is that fish are very in-tune with their environment.
In rivers, fish that are hungry often face upstream. They instinctively know that a wounded bug or minnow will be washing downstream with the current. By facing upstream, the fish can see that bug or minnow better. So usually it works best to cast upstream and let your bait work downstream.
It also became very apparent that river fish, from minnows to predators, are very aware of their surroundings. When fishing, an angler doesn’t want to be silhouetted against the sky above the fish. Every now and then I’ll stand very still on the bank above the fish, exactly where I wouldn’t stand if I was trying to catch them. In the clear water I can see the fish moving about. If I don’t move, the fish aren’t scared. But as soon as the fish get into my shadow, the tiniest movement from me will spook them quickly out of the area. If you want to catch fish, don’t spook them.
Most anglers enjoy recalling fishing memories, and as soon as there’s safe ice, many of us will be on it making more memories.