Friday, November 18, 2011

Gear up for the ice!

Ok, I know it's a little early to start talking ice fishing...I'm not loosing my mind, I am aware the ice isn't that thick yet!  Truth be told I have been talking ice fishing with friends and family since the season ended this spring!  Last year was the best ice fishing I have seen in all my years of ice fishing.  You have to admit, it's not that far away!  Today I would like to share a quick story of my best ice fishing experience, as well as share a couple more cheap gift ideas!

On January 16th, 2011 my grandpa Marvin, Marc McLemore, Garret Sawyer, and I arrived at Fish Lake for another day on the ice.  We were joined  shortly after arriving by Devin McLemore and Tyson Torgerson, who also had a couple of friends with them.  The day began as normal, we began fishing in the weed line, catching perch to use as bait.  Perch fishing was good that day, we caught a good amount quickly then moved out to about 30 feet of water to target splake and rainbows.  Fishing was fair early in the day as normal, then began to slow around late morning.  As the fishing slowed I remember telling my grandpa, "I'm going to move out deeper to see if I can catch something bigger.  I just want to try, even if it doesn't happen."

Tyson Torgerson pulls him into daylight as Devin Mclemore watches
I drilled a hole in about 45-50 feet of water, dropped my tube jig tipped with perch, and began jigging about 10 feet under the ice.  Nothing.  I let some more line out, now about 15 feet under.  Jackpot!  I quickly landed a fat rainbow, about 2 pounds...I even recovered my bait!  I let the line out to about the same depth and began to jig again.  Another hit!  I jigged slower to try to coax a better bite and he hit it.  I began to reel and it popped off!  Devin was standing about 30 feet away, and I recall looking at him saying, "that was a good fish Devin.  I'm not sure how big, but it was a lot better than what we have been catching."  I quickly baited back up and dropped to the same depth.  As soon as I pulled up softly to jig he hit again!  I had him this time!  The fish began to run, the reel singing as he stripped the line.  I imagine I must have been shouting, when I looked up the whole group had gathered around to see.  The fight lasted about 5 minutes, as I knew I had a lunker on 8 pound line and did not want it to break.  He flashed by the hole and I knew he was a beauty!  Tyson reached in and pulled him up.  Yeah, this time I'm sure I was shouting, as I now had the attention of everyone on the lake. 

Eskimo "barracuda" auger and ice rod/reel comb
both purchased at Sportsman's Warehouse
 And what a catch it was!  37 1/2 inches, 13 1/2 pounds!  The fish was longer than my fishing rod!  At the time I had no idea, but if I would have released the fish I would have shattered the Utah catch and release record by nearly 12 inches! 

I think a lot of people think ice fishing is really tough and expensive, when in fact it is quite the opposite!  Ice is the great equalizer!  If you don't have a boat to get to that deep water, now the ice allows you that access!  Now lets talk gear.  You can find a variety of ice rod/reel combos for as low as $15.  You will find them in about every sporting goods store around here, as well as online from Cabela's or Sportman's Warehouse, in the $15-$40 range.  Ice augers can also be found at the same locations from $30 to $60 for manual augers.  If it's a gas powered auger you are looking for, you will be talking $150 to $500.  If you look around you can also find them for rent here and there.  I know the Otter Creek Marina/Store rents augers for a reasonable price.  I have used a $35 hand auger for years and have had no complaints.  Yes, we may be only to ice fish for a few months out of the year, but I'm telling you that an ice rod/reel combo is a great gift that any guy or gal would appreciate.  Even if it's just a few outings, ice fishing is a blast!  Most of the time it's not as cold as you would think (just avoid the breezy days if you take kids!)  It's a great family outing, take the kids, the sleds, and a thermos of hot chocolate then enjoy the day!

Last year three of us went in together on an Eskimo gas powered auger, and I have to say it was a great investment.  This year I hope to add an Eskimo 4-person shelter and a Humminbird "little buddy" fish locator to my ice fishing arsenal.  I'm hoping the shelter will allow me to take the kids more often!

Good luck, and remember to send us some pictures of your fish this upcoming season!

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