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  • Ice fishing beginners

    My wife and I moved up here this summer from Oklahoma, and ice fishing is as foreign at the surface of the moon to Oklahomans. So my wife wanted to give ice fishing a try, she went to sportsmans warehouse and bought a rod and some jigs. Off to mirror lake we went, I knew there was ice fishing there because I saw them from the highway. We stomped the ice out of a previous drilled hole and gave'er hell. We took turns catching fish until we just got too cold, we loved every minute of it. More than likely it will be one of our winter past times up here.

    So here's my questions. What are some 'must haves' for some beginners like us? Also where are some lakes that are good for beginners? We live in anchorage and are willing to travel.
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  • #2
    Being you had to stomp the ice out of an old hole buy an auger and ice scoop. You were cold so get a shelter, heater, hand warmers and some nice winter gear. Don't be cheap with gear as you will get what you paid for and research items before buying them. Research your targeted species you plan to fish and watch some you tube videos to get some know how. Good luck and have with it!!

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    • #3
      I'm cracking up here. I moved up from Oklahoma too and thought the same thing, mom used to say "don't walk on the ice on the pond, you'll fall through and drown". It's a little more reassuring when you drill a hole and the ice is 3' thick, you could drive a D9 Caterpillar on it then.

      I started ice fishing my second winter up here out of boredom and got hooked. Comfort is a big thing, it's not fun if you're frozen, I have to take the popup and buddy heater or my wife will not consider going. But it's amazing how comfortable a little canvas tent can be with a small heater. As a side benefit you can see down the hole in a popup if the windows are closed, it's like live tv watching the fish bite.

      You're going to want a power auger if you're serious. I used a hand auger the first couple years and if there was over a foot of ice, it sucked. Cabelas has a package deal on sale right now for an Eskimo popup and gas auger combo, think they are $399.

      Go to the surplus store and buy you both a pair of the white bunny boots. If you're standing on ice you need good boots to keep your tootsies warm and bunnies are the best. They aren't stylish and they're heavy but I doubt anyone ever froze their feet off in a pair, more likely froze their body off their warm comfortable feet!

      You might try Finger lake in wasilla when the ice gets thick enough, may already be I don't know. F&G just put a ton AC stockers in there and there are some larger fish as well, I've seen 16"-22" rainbows and char pulled out of there. Access is easy too.

      Have fun!

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      • #4
        Ditto on what the Kid said about power augers and bunny boots. Ice creepers are also great to have with glare ice conditions, Went to Walby lake last sun. ice was about 6" already. Still fine for hand augers or even a spud. An ice skimmer is also a must. Ragg wool fingerless gloves and a pair of heavy Mitts along with some of those disposable hand warmers help keep the digits from becoming too numb. Having the right equipment can make all the difference between a great day or a real miserable experience.
        I am no longer surprised at what I am no longer surprised at ---Bill Whittle

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        • #5
          I agree with the bunny boots. They are less than $90 and are great for cold weather. Also, to keep your feet warm bring something to stand your feet one. It can be as simple as a piece of cardboard or a piece of blue foam insulation. Just the smallest barrier between your boots and the ice will make a big difference.

          If you go with a hand auger I would recommend a 6" so your not working so hard to get your hole. It's a little small for lake trout and larger fish but if your trying to start out cheap the smaller auger might be the way to go. If you can though, go with a power auger.

          The shelters are great if it's in the budget. They are great for cutting the wind on the ice and stay warm with a decent portable heater inside.

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          • #6
            Spare blades are a good thing to have on hand also. Learned that the hard way. Good thing I had brought an ice pick.

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            • #7
              I started my ice fishing last Feb and went full out on the 'basics'. It took my Christmas money but IMO its been the best investment I've made in a long time. Pop up shelter, little buddy heater, 8" auger (hand), rods & sled. At that time there were a lot of sales on the ice gear and that made a big difference in what could be had. As The Kid has said, comfort is important, and a shelter & heater will go far towards keeping you comfortable if you can swing it. As for shelter size, don't go too small. I have a 3 man Eskimo and its fine for 2 of us but with 3 its a big crowded once the folding chairs are out. It's workable but cramped.

              If a shelter is out of the budget then a tarp and a blanket can help insulate you from the ice, many people do just that.

              BTW we were probably on Mirror lake at the same time today and I don't know how many fish the kids and I caught, I stopped counting as they were coming in faster than I could keep up. Started off using shrimp but I couldn't bait hooks fast enough so we swapped over to jigs and it was nonstop fun from then on out. Finding what works can be just as rewarding as pulling fish up. Hope you did just as well

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              • #8
                Oh one other thing about shelters and heaters. Make sure you get an indoor safe heater. CO poisoning is no fun.

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                • #9
                  I started getting back into the " sport" 5 years ago after a longgggg hiatus. Started out With the basics. Now its quite a large investment. finally bought a snow machine this year which makes us mobile as ever! You'll enjoy having a jet sled to pull your gear around in. Several different sizes to choose from. If your into pike fishing, tip ups are a very fun asset. Feel free to ask any questions. Welcome to the fun.
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                  Release Lake Trout

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                  • #10
                    Some good advice already.
                    One thing I recommend is some ice picks for safety. Especially early ice. They hang around your neck and if you fall through you pull them apart and use the spikes to help drag yourself out.
                    A spud bar is a must for early ice as well. Use it to thump your way out. "If it goes through so will you".


                    And don't forget a selection of jigs. My favorite way to fish trout is a small jig tipped with a piece of raw shrimp.
                    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

                    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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                    • #11
                      That is why I like to wait tell the ice is good and thick before I go out on it. I don't like swimming in lakes in November. But if you have good winter gear I have been doing it with my gas auger bunny boots and a bucket to sit on for years even my wife will come with. Now that I have a kid im looking into the shelters.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by redneckalaskan View Post
                        That is why I like to wait tell the ice is good and thick before I go out on it. I don't like swimming in lakes in November. But if you have good winter gear I have been doing it with my gas auger bunny boots and a bucket to sit on for years even my wife will come with. Now that I have a kid i'm looking into the shelters.
                        To each his own I guess.
                        For me early ice can be some really good fishing and it can be done safely. You just have to be more careful, follow a few simple rules and carry a little safety gear.
                        I went out three times last week and had a great time fishing with my family. I had 5" of ice and felt perfectly safe.
                        But do what you feel is safe and have fun.
                        "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

                        "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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                        • #13
                          S these little buddy heaters...are they the little propane heaters?


                          I've only been out a few times the last two winters and this year, since we got a snowmachine, I wanted to get out more and ice fish. I'll be on the Yukon and may look at doing a little lake fishing if I can find a good lake. I was thinking about just an auger...for obvious reasons, but if cabela's has those starter kits, I may actually look into getting one. I could always sell something.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Yukon Cornelius View Post
                            S these little buddy heaters...are they the little propane heaters?
                            Yes they are propane. Either the little green bottles or with a hose and filter to a bigger bottle.
                            They make two sizes the Buddy and the Big buddy. I have even added a mod to mine to cook over it.
                            What is nice is they shut off if tipped over or in low oxygen making them indoor (iceshanty)safe.
                            "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

                            "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dexter Grayson View Post
                              My wife and I moved up here this summer from Oklahoma, and ice fishing is as foreign at the surface of the moon to Oklahomans. So my wife wanted to give ice fishing a try, she went to sportsmans warehouse and bought a rod and some jigs. Off to mirror lake we went, I knew there was ice fishing there because I saw them from the highway. We stomped the ice out of a previous drilled hole and gave'er hell. We took turns catching fish until we just got too cold, we loved every minute of it. More than likely it will be one of our winter past times up here.

                              So here's my questions. What are some 'must haves' for some beginners like us? Also where are some lakes that are good for beginners? We live in anchorage and are willing to travel.
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                              Jedi Salmon Powers Activated!
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