Naturalist Niche by Chuck Ungs
Way back in the corners of my mind I no doubt have an idea of how young I was when I went ice fishing for the first time. Without access to that nook I would guess that I was 3 or 4 years old when my dad would have first taken me along. While this certainly offers me some knowledge and skill advantages when I head out ice fishing these days, it also brings some disadvantages when I talk to folks who have never participated in the winter sport. It sets me up to believe that others begin at the same starting point and that simply isn’t true. For classes that means we should start with the basics and build from there.
Ice fishing is a niche sport, really. I know very few folks who ice fish that aren’t already enthusiastic open water anglers. It seems that from the generic open water angler model there are many ways that folks branch out into specialty fishing for specific species or sometimes methods like ice fishing. With that fact my recommendation would be to find someone who is already a serious ice angler to learn the ropes from. This would be a hard sport to just read about and then go try it out. There are just too many nuances to absorb in order to be successful at the sport with only that approach.
However, one way to learn about ice fishing is through various clinics put on by many of the County Conservation Departments in Iowa. The format in many cases is similar with participants being introduced to the general methods and techniques that help to bring success.
Linn County Conservation will hold our annual Youth Ice Fishing Clinic near the Canoe Rental Building at Pinicon Ridge Park on Sunday, Jan. 13 from 9 a.m. to noon. The clinic is intended for youth but the adults who come along also will pick up many tips and pointers well worth the small cost of admission at $1 per child, $2.50 per adult or $5 per family. This clinic is cosponsored by North Linn Fish and Game each year, who ensures that each participating youth will have a prize just for participating.
Topics covered will include how to: determine if the ice is thick enough for safety, drill an ice hole, remove slush, choose potential spots, fish with an ice rod, use a depth finder, set up your pole to be fishing in the right part of the water column, selecting jigs and perfecting the art of jigging, use a tip-up, select and use an ice shack, and much more. Expect to arrive near the start time and stay as long as the weather allows.
To learn more about ice fishing clinics in the area visit here: https://programs.iowadnr.gov/specialevents/ – this will allow you to search for events in your area and will supply you with any additional information you may need.
With some proper weather we could expect all participants to catch a fish or two. We hope you will join us. Tight lines to all, and to all a good bite!