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The Boatless Angler - Chapter 10.2 - The Basics of Ice Fishing

The cold weather is what a boatless angler waits for as the ice provides a gateway to a complete body of water. But where do you begin? Here’s part 2 of The Boatless Angler and The Basics of Ice Fishing.


What to use as bait:

If it is your first time out in a new spot and you are not quite sure what you are going to catch, then these few key tips that will absolutely get fish at the end of your line.

Use live bait; whether its minnows, worms or grubs you will always have an advantage over trying other artificials right off the bat.


  1. Keep your bait tiny; when I say tiny, I mean tiny.For example cut a minnow into small pieces (about 10 pieces per minnow) and use that to start. A reluctant fish will often go after small bait rather than a larger one.
  2. Jig your bait; every minute you will want to jig and move your bait around to draw in fish from afar and also trigger a strike.If you don’t move your bait, fish swim by without a thought.
  3. Use a streamline small simple setup; use the Thundermist Bait rig (tips on tying this rig click here, figure of this rig located right) with 4lbstest line and No. 12 hooks.This may seem light and tiny, but that’s what you need to trigger even the most reluctant fish.If you find that you are catching larger fish, you can upgrade the pound test, bait and the hook size that you desire, but always start small.

The Boatless Anglers’ hard water rule of 20:

The Boatless Anglers’ hard water rule of 20 goes like this:

Once you drill your first hole, and for example you caught 5 fish out of that hole rather quickly then all of a sudden the action has stopped. Once the action stops (which it often does while ice fishing) keep fishing for 20 minutes, if no more fish have been caught in that 20 minutes then you can walk 20 feet away and drill another hole (see figure below).


If you catch more fish in the new hole quickly, you can conclude that the fish are not active and are staying put. Therefore it is up to you to move if the fish aren’t, so keep applying the rule of 20 and cover some water.

Take along these basic tips and you can guarantee that you’ll have a great day on the water, literally… ON the water!

PS: if you missed part 1, you can view it by clicking here.

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