First and foremost an ice fisherman needs the location of good lakes for ice fishing. Usually a lake that produces lots of fish in the summer fishing season will also produce numerous fish in the winter.
Many factors in a lake in winter affect fish life, changing their reactions, their feeding habits, and even their survival rate. For instance a heavy layer of snow over the ice will cut down on the amount of light that filters into the water, reducing weed growth and oxygen production. This will result in the fish becoming lethargic, interested in only conserving their energy to survive rather than wasting energy to feed and move around.
Lakes that are weed choked in the summer is usually is shallow and contains very few deep pools or spots that contain oxygen rich pockets for fish to congregate, and may not be able to sustain a large fish population in the winter months. Lakes that produce great numbers of fish in summer are likely to congregate in these pools and use up the oxygen and they will not all survive.
Fish die off in the winter does not mean that severe oxygen depletion has occurred throughout the whole lake; certain areas will still produce good fishing results. Consider all factors when choosing a lake for ice fishing.
ICE FISHING SPOTS
For new folks fishing the best spot to start is to go where the crowds or people are before you start to experiment. The ice fish crowd loves to socialise while fishing as it ads to the enjoyment. The willingness to share good fishing spots with others is and advantage to the newcomer to ice fishing. No one minds if a few more holes are cut and some more fish taken. Most other anglers will be more than willing to discuss their success and the bait or lures that have been most successful.
Most successful fishermen do not mind sharing their secrets and many oldtimers derive great satisfaction helping a newcomer to ice fishing the advantages of his years of experience. You will some exceptions to this but do not be afraid to ask and let someone know you are new to winter fishing.
Finding the location of fish is frustrating at times. Remember fish in the winter act different than in the summer months. The only requirement for a fish in winter is to eat enough to survive. They generally feed only part of the day to not waste a lot of their energy. The competition for food seems to be the key to fish feeding habits while fishing. Many ice fishermen do not consider all the noise of cutting holes setting up huts will affect the fish. After you settle down to fishing and stop all noisey movement the fish will come back and be more active.
ICE FISHING EQUIPMENT
It is not all that expensive to get started fishing during the winter( but you can get expensive if you wish). When you decide how much of your time will be spent fishing then go from there.
For the weekend ice fishing angler I would suggest a standard ice fishing rod, which can be purchased at any sorting goods store. The rod is seldom more than a fiberglass rod about two feet long with two line guides and a small take up reel. The line can be from 2 to 6 pound test monofilament. Bobbers are a handy thing for ice fishing so keep a couple in your pack. You will also need a variety of lures, hooks, sinkers, swivels and other basic fishing tackle. Also a chisel, ice spud or ice auger for your ice fishing holes. Hit your local bait store before you leave to pick any live bait needed for the species and lake you intend to fish.
Don't overdo it on your first ice fishing trip out onto the lake. Go out early in the morning and fish till noon, and call it a day. If the fish are biting you should have caught your share by then. If the fish don't bite worry not you will have learnt to use the new equipment. The next trip out you will be even more equipped and ready for all the fish you will catch.
DRESSING FOR ICE FISHING
Dressing comfortably for winter fishing presents some problems that do not confront other outdoor winter activities. The chief concern is to stay warm at all times, but fishing by nature involves extremes of activity that will cause you to perspire if you are dressed to warmly, and then freeze when you sit too long. You may work up a sweat just getting there and setting up to start fishing. Then sitting for a long time once fishing then you are cold. The secret is to dress warmly for travel and have more to put on for the periods of inactivity. A good snowmobile outfit covers all the needs of most ice fishermen. Remember layers under the parka, you can always take it off if you are too warm. Get out ther and enjoy, catch some fish and you will become and addict of fishing in all seasons.