Contributed by Joe Doucette, Nevada Department of Wildlife
For those of you who have never ice fished, you are in for a surprise. It is relaxing, quite easy and much more social than its warm weather cousin. Contrary to popular myth, ice anglers can use pretty much the same gear that they use during the summer with just a few minor exceptions.
To get started in ice fishing, you basically need a rod, terminal tackle, a way cut a hole through the ice and something to skim the ice off the water in the hole. Anything else, as far as fishing gear goes, is a bonus. When I was in college, (that means no money) I used my small stream ultralight rod with a weight, bobber, and hook to ice fish with.
As far as rods go, many anglers do use a lightweight full-length rod, but it is easier to use a rod that is built specifically for ice fishing. These are generally around 18 to 30 inches in length and have a small reel loaded with fishing line developed to stay limp even in extremely cold weather. The lighter rods are for fish like perch, allowing the angler to notice the light strike of the small fish, while a little stouter rod can handle the strength of the fight that a 20 inch trout puts up.
There are two types of augers, the spoon and the blade auger and prices range between $75 and $125, with power augers starting around $200 and going up from there. For hand augers, the blade type auger seems to cut the ice faster and with less effort. In the hands of a reasonably fit person you can cut a hole in 2 feet of ice in a little more than 5 minutes. The trick is to keep the blades sharp and free of rust.
In Nevada, for the purposes of ice fishing, the maximum size hole you can cut in the ice is 10 inches. Obviously the larger the diameter of the hole, the more ice you are cutting through and therefore the more energy and time it takes to cut the hole. Most anglers like to use an 8” auger.
Other considerations for ice fishing include the very important act of staying warm. Well insulated waterproof boots are a must. For those on a budget, many department stores carry snow boots with a felt liner that are reasonably priced. These aren’t great for hiking, but they work well when standing or sitting on the ice waiting for a strike. Obviously, a good coat and wool gloves are also a must. Your hands are going to get wet, and wool will still hold warmth when it is wet.
A plastic sled to carry your gear onto the ice with is nice and a five gallon bucket that can double both as a chair and as a container to carry your fish off the ice with. Sun block is especially important on sunny days as your face will get a double whammy of sun as it reflects off of the snow or ice. Finally, a good thermos full of hot cocoa or coffee and munchies will make the day much more enjoyable.
For more information on fishing, or to buy a Nevada fishing license, visit NDOW’s website at www.ndow.org or call the local Elko NDOW office at