Beginner tips and advice



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  • Beginner tips and advice

    Hi! The Mrs. and I moved up to Anchorage last spring, and have had a great time so far fishing all summer and fall. We are looking to continue enjoying the fishing through the winter and start ice fishing, but I'm not sure where to start. I have zero experience ice fishing. I have done a bit of research here and on other sites, and feel like I have a decent starting point. I am planning on buying a shelter and gas auger for Christmas (they will be my present from the Mrs, lol). However, I'm looking for advice on the tackle, technique, where to get started, etc.

    1. What size rod/reel/line should I get? I know this depends on what I want to fish, but I'm not really sure on that. haha. Any fish that I can catch and eat is what I'd like. I've never fished for or caught char, burbot, pike, so that'd be cool. Also stocked fish like trout that I can get out and fish around town would be cool too, for something to do after work.

    2. What kind of tackle? Bait and bobbers? Jigs? I'm a newbie, so still learning the different rigs and setups.

    3. Can you help me with a starting list of places to go? I'm thinking I'll start off in town to get my setup and gear figured out, then start going a little out of town, maybe even some weekend trips. Is Jewel Lake a good starting point? Are there any spots somewhat close to Anchorage (1-3hrs) to go for burbot?

    4. Heaters...what size do I need? Do most people use the Mr. Buddy type system with a disposable bottle or the kind that mount on top of a large propane bottle?

    Thanks and I look to seeing you out there!

  • #2
    I've not had a tremendous amount of experiance, only started ice fishing last January, but I was instantly hooked. You're gettting the shelter and auger so you're well on your way.

    1. I've done well with a medium weight rod & reel, its been sensitive enough to feel the little nibbles and for the most part the in town fishing is mostly sight fishing so you're able to see the bites before feeling. I've pulled up 21-24" char on these rods with no problems. One thing you'll discover is the fish don't have the energy in winter like you're used to in summer, so the lighter tackle works in your favor.

    2. I routinly use jigs, salmon eggs, salmon roe, cured and raw shrimp, and herring for pike. Be prepaired to change up when the fish are there but not interested in what you're tossing at them. I've seen them investigate a jig but not do the taste test, however a bit of shrimp brings out the competitive nature with the fish. Got to get this before the next fish does.

    3. For in town you can try Jewel lake, Delong lake, Sand Lake (80'th avenue off sand lake road or sand lake elementry for access), Little Campbel lake ( kincade park) are good producers for in the bowl area. If you want quick action Mirror lake will provide you with a lot of fish very quickly. They're 9-11" trout but lots of fun, especialy if you're taking a kid out. For the valley you can try Big Lake for burbot, I think Nancy lake also has burbot but check the regs there as I think you can't retain for Nancy.

    Also consult for stocked lakes, latest stocking reports and bathymetric maps.

    4. Heater size depends on your shelter. I have a 3 man Eskimo Quickfish 3 and the Little Buddy works just fine in there. Doesn't occupy much space and gets it nice and warm. If you get a larger shelter you should go larger on the heater. My friend had bought a Fatfish shelter and the Little Buddy just couldn't cut it with the extra space so he went up a size and had to turn off the heater on his last trip. Got too hot. As for heater type, make sure its indoor safe, has the auto shut off for low oxygen and tip over protection.

    Good luck and hope you have as much fun as I have.


    • #3
      OK to start with I would buy a rod for trout fishing. They are easy to catch and your wife will be happy with the good fishing they should provide. Once you are certain you like it you can go for harder to catch species.
      Start with a light action rod and a small reel. I preffer the Shimano ax-ulsa 500 series reels on a medium quality rod. No need for $100 rods or reels to start out with.
      For line I stick with 6# microice from Berkley. Small enough to work well on smaller trout but when the occasional 20"+ fish comes through you can land him also. I tried lighter lines and found the 6# is a good choice.
      I would buy the book The Highway Angler Ice Fishing By Gunnar Pedersen.
      It has directions to a lot of road system lakes so when you here a lake mentioned you can look up how to get there.
      Also look at the ADF&G stocking info. Look at how many fish were stocked but also size.
      Some lakes get a lot of fish and others get fewer but bigger fish. They also give lake size and directions to get there.
      When you get there look for old holes from other fishermen. Those are usually good places to start fishing. Holes with blood around them usually indicate someone had success there.
      I preffer jigs and I make my own. If you lived closer to Soldotna I would recommend you stop by my workshop and I would help you make some killer jigs.
      For Store bought jigs I like almost anything from Custom Jigs and Spins. American made quality jigs that work.
      The Shrimpo and Ratso are two of my favorites as are their Slender spoons. I like the orange,pink,and Chartreuse colors for jigs.
      For bait I buy raw uncooked shrimp. Avoid the cocktail stuff. I cut each shrimp into ~12 pieces at home. Bag them up in small ziplocs and give each fisherman his own bag of bait.
      If you cut it at home you can make the baits small and they wiil only cost you 1 or 2 cents per bait.
      I do not use any kind of bobber. They are not neccessary.
      The buddy and big buddy heaters are the way to go. They are indoor safe and work well. I run mine off a 10# tank with a filter and hose.
      Saves on Propane that way versus the green bottles.
      The sunflower heaters are hot all over and can easily burn you or melt anything they touch(shanty walls or fishing line).I have used them but gave them up for the buddy heater.
      And the most important things are your safety gear.
      Some Ice cleats for early snow free ice and some ice picks to help you get out should you fall in. Some rope to throw to someone who fell in is easy to carry.
      And a spud bar to thump your way out onto the lake. If it goes through so will you! Not needed later in the year but very neccessary for early ice trips or trips to unfamiliar lakes that may have thin ice spots.
      Don't forget pack out what you pack in!
      I hope this helps.
      "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"


      • #4
        I would add that a coleman propane lantern puts out about as much heat as one of those catalytic heaters and you get the benefit of the light as well. When fishing in the dark, the light seems to bring in the fish.

        Also, quick strike rigs are awesome for rigging up herring for pike.

        I would second the starting out small so its fun. I take my wife and daughter to a lot of the stocked lakes in Anchorage. Especially right after they've been stocked. It's non-stop action and they love it.

        Fish on!


        • #5
          My kid and I just started ice fishing last year and we've had a ton of fun. We will be fishing on Flat lake Monday morning, and might hit a lake closer to anchorage for a bit on the 23rd. Happy to share what little we know. Come join us if you're able...
          Alaska Board of Game 2015 tour... "Kicking the can down the road"


          • #6
            Call fish and game and ask when kids events will be held. There are events on Finger Lake in the Valley, Jewel and Fire Lakes in Anchorage, and others, I'm sure. Boy scouts usually do an event on Meyers Lake in Palmer, possibly others as well. These are great ways to be around people catching fish and knowledgeable about it; they usually need volunteers and kids.


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