When some of us see snow on the hills, they quiver and start to sink into their couches for the winter. Then there are a few of us, like my wife and I, that think it’s almost time for ice fishing.
When the temperature starts to drop at night and puddles form layers of ice, the rush to get ready for winter hits. When the snow comes and goes, then comes again the urge to be outside becomes overwhelming. Knowing that you have to wait for a proper freeze up can be a little testing some years.
We like to use a toboggan for early season fishing to avoid thin ice issues with the four-wheeler. Remember that no ice can actually be called safe early in the winter. The type of water, location and other factors like water depth and flowing water make for a slower freeze. White opaque ice is half as strong as blue ice and is formed by wet snow freezing into ice.
If you can find blue-to-clear ice like we had at Windy Arm last year you will be fine, but you may have to dodge people out for a skate in the Yukon. Any smooth ice is a hockey rink here.
Unpacking the shed to rearrange seasonal items is a bit of a pain, but you will thank yourself when there is a foot of snow in the yard and all you have to do is grab the ice fishing gear from the front and head out. Over the years we have progressively become better at this. Another packing tip is to lighten your tackle box by clearing out some of the summer fishing gear – the sleigh gets heavy quick.
Aluminium shovels help for clearing a nice spot for your hole to prevent snow constantly falling in. In the past we have tried every fancy rod holder and style you can buy. Some people like the one that bobs in the water on its own but we have found our best success is to jig yourself. Then there is no question if it was a fish or just the current. Try a few things and see what works best for you.
One day last year, the conditions were perfect to head out for a day of ice fishing. The road was rather quiet as we headed out – it seemed like everyone left it to us to enjoy that Saturday morning.
The sky was clear and the sun was working its way over the mountains to greet the world on this beautiful Yukon morning. The first signs of southern birds were apparent in the willows as the buntings played like children in the branches. The calm wind and the company of only my wife made for a great relaxing drive. No kids, just the dog and our fishing gear. It was one of those days you knew would be great.
When we got to the lake our party was already at the spot on the ice. As I grabbed some of the gear in the back of the pickup a snow machine pulled up, before it was even shut off I could hear “Well at least you showed up,” with sarcasm in his voice.
Stephan and I have known each other for years and have been fishing together ever since. This time I was late and it was time for him to give me the gears. Following an explanation of what happened, and a lot more sarcasm, we laughed and loaded the Rhino and headed out on the ice.
The day turned out to be beautiful. At the other end of the lake it looked like we were going to get some nasty stuff all day, but it was as though there was a spear head placed in the sky where we were and the sun shined all day.
The fish were not informed that when the weather is good and people are enjoying themselves they should bite a hook more often. We played this game all day with our underwater friends, and for the most part they won.
Between all of us we caught very few fish, but, like hunting, if it worked out every time, it would be called shopping.