How To Use Shiners to Ice Fish

The fine art of ice fishing requires a smidgen of fishing skill, a superhuman resistance to cold and a lot of patience. When a pond ices over, the best lure to use to catch fishes would be shiners. Game fishes will jump at the chance to go after shiners so you will be spoilt for choice when ice fishing.

Below are the items you’ll need to ice fish:

  • Hooks and weights
  • Auger / hand drill
  • Split shots
  • Ice fishing line
  • Bucket
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Knife
  • Bait (shiners)
  • First aid kit
  • Ice fishing rod or tip ups

Get you license in order

To ice fish, you need to have a license. You need to get that in order first, otherwise, you could be looking at stiff penalties.

Safety first

Ice fishing is markedly very different from summer fishing because you are exposed to harsh elements that could lead to frostbite or even death by exposure. Make sure that you hare properly protected against the cold because it is always a few degrees colder when you’re on the ice. Make sure you check with weather forecasts regarding the temperature. Lastly, check with the local DEM office to see if the ice is safe to walk on.

In the bait shop

You’ll want to buy enough shiners so that you’re good for the whole fishing trip. A rule of thumb is to get a dozen shiners for every member of your group and then get an extra dozen just in case. Bring the bucket so you can keep the shiners alive before you get to the fishing spot.

Keep the bucket cold

Shiners will live longer if your bucket is the same temperature or close to the water you want to fish in. Sudden changes in temperature will kill shiners and you want them to be able to attract attention when they’re in the water. You can often ask the clerks at the bait shop for temperature information at your fishing spot.

Size according to game

Just like underwear, there are three different sizes for shiners. Which size shiners you’ll get will determine the kind of fish you’re trying to catch? The bigger ones will attract species like the Northern Pike, the middle sized ones will be good for getting bass and walleyes and the small shiners will get you deep water trout.

The right equipment for the right fish

The kind of fish you’re after will often dictate the kind of equipment you’ll need. Usually all you’ll need is a short rod with a sensitive tip. Use a mesh sieve net or insulated rubber gloves. Try to avoid using your bare hands as you increase the chances of getting frostbitten each time you submerge your hands in the cold water.

Hook the shiner

If you’re using a rod and reel, all you need to do is to hook the shiner through the dorsal fin. This is the most standard method because you will need to drop the shiner to an appropriate depth depending on the kind of fish you’re trying to catch.

If you’re looking at an extended wait for fishes, then the method you should use is to hook it through its mouth. Shiners hooked this way live longer and attract fish longer that way. Shiners hooked in the former method tend to swim upwards and those hooked in the latter method swim downwards. That direction will also factor in the kind of game you’re after.

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