Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as presented by the State Of Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Safety First: Try to fish around other ice anglers so if you do fall through, someone might be there to help you get out. Remember to dress appropriately to prevent hypothermia and wear a life jacket or flotation suit when walking around on ice. Many anglers also bring along an extra change of dry clothes just in case of an emergency. Keep your cell phone available, but protected from the elements.
One of the great things about ice fishing is that tackle can be very simple and inexpensive. Short rods, light gear, light line, and small baits are the ticket. Some anglers also like to use small bobbers as strike indicators since strikes can be subtle. Tip-ups are a common addition to many ice anglers’ tackle, too. They come in a variety of designs, but essentially involve a spool of line hanging in the water with bait attached. Most store-bought versions feature a signaling device, such as a flag, that pops up when a fish takes the bait. In Ohio, anglers can have up to six tip-ups going at one time, and each must be labeled with the owner’s name and address.
Because fish don’t strike as aggressively in the winter, you’ll want to use lighter tackle – 8 pound test or less – and smaller baits. You can increase your odds by tipping artificial lures with live bait. Sluggish fish are much more likely to hit on a minnow-tipped jig as opposed to one with a plastic worm.
What’s biting down below? Well you can catch the same species when ice fishing as you hooked during the summer months, including crappie, bluegill, bass and catfish, as well as perch and walleye .
Drop your line through an ice hole on a farm pond and you’ll likely be pulling up some tasty panfish, such as bluegill and crappie. For bait, we suggest using a tiny ice jig or fly and tipping it with wax worms.
Lake Erie ice fishing is definitely a different “kettle of fish.” For a variety of reasons – including safety – many anglers hire a guide who sets them up in the protective shelter of a shanty and helps them locate the fish. The area between Green and Rattlesnake islands, just west of South Bass Island, usually offers some of the safest ice on the lake.
For those targeting walleye, use minnows on jigging spoons, blade baits and jigging Rapalas. Yellow perch can be caught with a spreader or crappie rig tipped with shiners. Some anglers include a bobber as a strike indicator.
Water can have different density depending on the temperature. Water is MOST dense when it is at 4°C (39°F). Instead of warm water at the top and cool water at the bottom in summer, the warmest water in the winter will be at the bottom while the coolest water will be at the top. This cool water will eventually freeze first and become the first layer of ice. So when you start your day ice fishing, try putting your lures near the bottom first since that is where it is the warmest.
Have Fun, Good Luck Fishing and Be Safe