What about shelters? Which types of situations call for the different types of ice shelters? Do you need one?
There is LOTS of options for electronics. Generally you have two catagories: flashers and cameras. Flashers are super useful for locating fish, checking depth, as well as watching how fish react to your presentation. The only time I have used cameras was to see what kind of fish were down the hole, especially if they are biting light, or if I have fish setting off tip ups but aren't getting hooked
Most people use either flasher or LCD sonar units. They work well for just about everything, but really help when jigging. You can see the fish. You can see your lure/bait. And you can see how the fish interacts with your lure/bait, and therefore coax them into biting. Underwater cameras can also be helpful for seeing more specifics of what is down there (species, vegetation density, etc.)
Since I'm a poor college student, I've sat in just about anything you can imagine. For the ice angler on a budget, a simple 2 man pop-up hunting blind that you can find at most sporting goods stores works just fine
You don't need a shelter, but they sure help on cold and/or windy days. I use a two-man flip over Frabill shack.
How about recommendations for rods, reels and/or tip ups. What do you guys like?
It really depends on the conditions I go out in. On warm March or April days I usually don't bother with a shelter. When it's -15 (F) in January the shelter is almost a must.
For walleyes, I always recommend a medium action rod, about 25-27 inches long. For line, 4lb monofilament or 2lb superline seems to work the best for most jigging applications. A lot of guys worry about using light line for walleyes since they have teeth. DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, I have yet to have been bitten off by one jigging!
Anyone ever use an ice fishing rod/reel for non-winter techniques? I live in Southern California, so not many opportunities to ice fish. I've heard that some people are using a rig like some of the 13fishing (www.13fishing.com) ice rigs for dropshotting, which we use quite a bit here.
I've never fished with an ice rod for open water..yet, however I do want to rig up a tip-up sometime with floats and see what happens in open water just for fun!
Rods and reels really depend on the species you are after. I typically jig for large predators like big walleyes and pike. For that I use St. Croix Premier ice rods in a Med Heavy or Heavy action. For big walleyes I'll put 10 lb mono on a spinning reel. For larger predators like pike and lakers I use 20 lb braid on a baitcasting setup.
New topic: Species & Seasonal Strategies, and a question for our panel. Let's start with walleye first, what's a basic strategy you follow to target walleye given certain conditions?
I can't say I've ever used an ice fishing rod/reel for open water, but I have used open water rods/reels for ice fishing. . .
I use Jason Mitchell Meat Sticks. They are perfectly weighted and are sensitive enough to use without a spring bobber.
Where I fish the time of day and seasonal transitions seem to be the biggest factors in locating walleyes. During dawn and dusk, I catch them on shallow structure. In the afternoon I catch them on mud flats a lot of times.
For most inland lakes throughout the midwest, I look for more "classic" walleye structures. A great place to start is deep weed edges, rocky drop offs, and sand flats, usually in the late afternoon and past dark. For early ice, the weeds can be a great place as well. As the plants are still photosynthesizing, they are producing oxygen during the day, drawing fish in. Generally, I will move away from the weeds after dark
How about crappie, perch or bluegill? Different strategies for each?
I punch a lot of grids on key areas. Moving across these grids and "ice trolling" is an effective pattern. Staggering the holes and cutting them across the entire key area you are fishing will yield great success!
During early ice the walleyes are more scattered. Later in the winter they tend to concentrate near spawning grounds. Late winter tends to be the best time to catch hawgs!
It really depends on the day. You can definately catch walleyes throughout the day if you can follow their movements. Usually they will be hanging out deeper during the day and are slightly less active, so a slower jigging approach as well as tip-ups are my go to strategies
. Electronics help a ton!
During the middle of the day can be pretty tough for me sometimes. Usually I'll fish deeper, and have had some success, but the best bite always seems to be dawn and dusk.
Great point about reading through the ice, Rich!
I will also add that for locating prime structures a good GPS with a depth contour overlay is very valuable.
Any specific tips for northern pike?
Bigger pike like access to deep water, especially in early winter. I like to set tip ups on weed edges at the top of sharp dropoffs.
Tony, that is one of my most favorite techniques for late ice! For some reason the silver seems to be my best color. Don't be afraid to go big either. The closer to spring it gets, the more their metabolisms speed up in preparation for the spawn.
Golden shiners have always been
my best pike bait.
Alright final topic before moving onto Q&A, Maximizing Your Time, and a question for our panel. Between jigging, tip ups, live bait, artificial bait, etc. how do you keep yourself organized?
For maximizing my time, I like to jig with artificial lures until I know I've located fish. Fishing lures makes it very easy to stay mobile. Once I'm on fish, I'll usually set some tip ups.
Being in WI we can fish 3 lines per person, so I will generally set 2 tip ups and stagger them from shallow to deep. I usually have about 8 additional holes that are also staggered that I will jump around to and jig while I wait for some action. Once I start getting bites or flags at a certain depth, I'll move my tip ups to that depth and try to follow the fish