Full disclosure. As much as I love to fish and have all my life in Montana, I have never gone ice fishing!

I won't call it a New Year's resolution, because nobody keeps those. No, rather I am promising myself that I will venture onto the hard water this winter. And since I am obviously a novice, it got me wondering about helpful suggestions. I have found a couple that I wanted to share. Those of you who are experienced ice anglers will probably roll your eyes and think, "Well, duh. Of course you do that." So just bear with my fellow beginners and me.

1 – One of the biggest struggles most ice anglers face is locating the fish. Depending on what species of fish you’re targeting they can be found near the bottom or anywhere in the water column to just below the ice. One smart techniques is, once your jig is sitting on the bottom, reel up your line a few turns. Then allow it to sit for several minutes. Continue this process until you get a bite, catch a fish or sense some sort of fish activity. Once you have located a successful depth, continue to fish this exact depth each and every time. Don’t hesitate to switch up your bait, move around, drill some test holes and continue this process.

2 – During the winter the fish slow down and become lethargic, meaning the fish are not going to use too much energy to go after your jig. So, once you have found your chosen fishing location and fishing depth try this cool technique to entice a strike from inactive fish. It’s called the “twist”. You simply twist your line a let it go. What this does is provide just enough action on your jig to entice a bite, but it also keeps your jig at the exact depth you have chosen. Unlike jigging which moves your jig up and down the water column the “twist” technique allows you to put your jig in action without moving it out of the strike zone.

Good luck, anglers. Start you augers, be safe and make sure you are on thick, solid, hard water.


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