History of Ice Fishing - Techniques and Equipment
Ice fishing is an old method of fishing where fishermen catch fish with line and hook through an opening in the ice on a frozen body of water. It began as
a way of survival in those periods of year and parts of the Earth where ice would cover the water and getting the fish was not as easy as without ice.
Today is mostly winter sport.
We don’t know for sure when people started ice fishing but we know that it is tradition of Native peoples of North America and Canada. They would break the
ice over the lake or a river and place a wooden decoy shaped like a fish into the hole. When (a real) fish comes to eat the decoy, they would spear the
fish with a spear made of wood, bone or ivory. Later people started using rod, line and fish hook to catch a fish.
Today, ice fishing is much more modernized. For breaking the ice people used axes but today they use ice saws, augers (large drill that can drill wide hole
into the ice) or chisels. In time, new ice forms over the hole and it is removed with a “skimmer”, a large metal spoon with holes in it. Fisherman can fish
from that hole by just placing a stool near it and sitting but most of ice fishers like to place an ice shack over it (also known as ice shanty, fish
house, shack, bobhouse, or ice hut). This is a small portable shed which provides a shelter for a fisherman. They can be very small (a 1.5 m by 1,5 m in
the base) or larger, with bunks and other commodities. To prevent icing of the holes, fishermen use heaters that also heat the ice shack. The first ice
houses appeared in 1980s.
Ice Fishing Techniques
Ice fishermen catch fish in one of three ways. First method is using small and light fishing rods with lures or jigs. Fisherman waits by the hole with rod in
his hands and hakes the rod to produce the jig and lure the fish. Second method is using s-called “Tip-ups” which are wooden devices that are placed over
the hole. They hold the line with bait and hook and have small flags that are placed horizontally when there is no fish on the hook and that rise when the
fish is caught. Third method uses spears. Fisherman sits in a dark ice shack (called a “dark house”) with a fish decoy in an ice hole waiting for a fish to
appear. Some fisherman use “flasher” - a sonar system that provides depth information and movement of fish.
Ice fishing can be dangerous. Thickness of ice is not the same everywhere and ice can be thinner in areas with swift currents. Offshore winds can break off
large pieces of ice, leaving fishermen stranded. If temperature changes drastically during the winter, it can change structure of ice which is still of the
required thickness but much more brittle.