Chief of Staff, Department of Fish & Game (DFG)
Two weekends ago, I got out for a successful day of ice fishing with my wife and kids at Baldpate Pond in Boxford. Ice fishing is one of my favorite outdoor winter hobbies because it’s a simple and fun family activity and a great way to enjoy nature in winter.
This trip is particularly memorable because my six year-old son landed a five pound-plus largemouth bass. My ten year-old daughter caught several yellow perch and she was able to dig one of the holes through the eight inch thick ice by herself.
The kids enjoyed skating while we waited for a tip-up flag to go up, signaling that a fish has taken the bait. My kids raced to the flag each time it popped up. The photos are from a fishing trip in Georgetown last winter with my family.
If you have never been ice fishing, go with someone who knows the basics, attend an ice fishing derby or click here for more information about MassWildlife’s fishing clinics.
You can get everything you’ll need, including bait such as shiners and meal worms, at your local tackle shop. Here’s a list of things you should have to get started:
*a few tip ups (a spool on crossed sticks that suspends line, hook and bait into the water)
*ice scoop to remove ice shavings
*depth finder (large sinker)
*basic tackle that you would use for regular fishing
*short rod and reel for jigging small lures
*basket that can be worn like a backpack
*five gallon bucket to transport gear and bait
Ideal conditions – especially if you are taking children – are a day with temperatures in the teens to thirties and little or no wind. Dress in layers with waterproof or water resistant jacket and pants, heavily insulated waterproof boots and winter socks.
I fish mostly on small ponds where ice conditions are more uniform than on large lakes. As a rule, I avoid getting close to streams feeding or leaving the pond. I also check ice thickness with the auger. For information about ice safety, click here to read Marion’s post about ice safety recommendations.
Ponds that have pickerel, perch, sunfish, and other pan fish will greatly increase your chances for success, as will using tip ups and jigging small lures. In my opinion, freshwater fish also taste best when caught in the winter. Click here to check out MassWildlife’s pond maps that give good information about pond access and the fish you can catch.
If you and your family like warm weather fishing or winter outdoor activities, one ice fishing outing will hook you on hard water fishing!
From February 12-14, 2010, MassWildlife staff will be selling fishing licenses and offering fishing information at the Eastern Fishing and Outdoor Exposition at the DCU Center in Worcester. Click here for more information about the exposition.