From skimmers to swimmers, ice fishing stays cool
February 28, 2011 —
While some sip hot chocolate by the fireplace, others venture onto ice for a common winter sport ó ice fishing.
What some find great about ice fishing is that itís fairly simple to do and requires few supplies.
Required is a fishing license, which can be purchased from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, as well as some stores that sell fishing supplies.
Ice fishermen only need three tools, including something to make a hole in the ice, something to clear out the hole and, of course, something to fish with.
Spuds and augers are tools that make holes in the ice.
Spuds are long metal poles with a chisellike head, and augers are either power- or hand-operated. They also have a cork screw bladed edges for cutting ice.
Spuds are generally cheaper, and more difficult to use, but allow the angler to test the thickness of the ice when walking. Spuds are used to chip open a hole in the ice, which does require some physical strength to do.
Augers are generally more expensive but are simpler to use. They are either handor power-operated and drill holes into the ice.
After a hole has been made in the ice, it fills with slush. Ice skimmers, which look like ladles with holes, are used to remove the slush from the hole.
As for catching the fish, there are endless amounts of tactics and supplies available. The most popular is a short rod with a spinning reel, with bait or artificial lures.
Two local ice fishing locations are the Saginaw Bay and Saginaw River.
The dangers of ice fishing should never be overlooked.
Just last month two snowmobilers fell through the thin ice on Higgins Lake. The two were in the icy water for about 20 minutes before being rescued and transported to Grayling Mercy Hospital to be treated for hypothermia.
Before going out on the ice, one should always ensure that the ice conditions are adequate and safe.
The U.S. Army recommends a minimum thickness of 2 inches of ice for a 200-pound load.
The DNR offers the following tips for staying safe on the ice:
-Avoid areas where the ice is discolored, and where there could be moving water from a creek or spring that can weaken the ice.
-Wear a flotation device and carry a rope that could reach someone whoís in trouble.
-Carry ice picks because they can also help you get a grip on the ice if you fall in. Finally, if you were to ever fall into the ice, itís important to not panic.
To get out, turn toward the direction where you last had good ice, and try to slide yourself out. Once youíre back onto the ice, crawl or roll away from the hole until youíre sure that youíre on good ice.