CHENANGO COUNTY – Winter can be a very long, boring time of the year for many people. Once the holiday season passes, there is not much to do other than look forward to the snow melting and being able to go outside without a heavy coat and gloves. That is, unless you ice fish.
From late December until March is a time where you can fish on a pretty small budget compared to open-water fishing. The gear needed to start ice fishing includes an auger, a scoop, a rod and reel or tip-ups, and something to sit on. These four items, plus some small jigs and bait – to add to the jigs – will allow you to get out on the ice and possibly catch fish. If you go the tip-up path, you’ll need tip-ups, (you’re allowed up to seven per person), plus the appropriate line, leader, hooks, sinkers and some minnows. Either way, you can get started for under a couple hundred dollars, especially if you know someone who already goes and has an auger.
By obtaining a contour map of the body of water where you plan on fishing, one can focus on certain areas that might be holding fish. While the ice is fresh and is not snow covered, submerged aquatic vegetation – 'seaweed' – will continue to use sunlight to photosynthesize and produce oxygen during the day. Aquatic invertebrates that use the vegetation for cover will stay here and attract the fish that are 'pickers'. These fish pick invertebrates off from the vegetation and use it as cover. Bluegill and pumpkinseed are among the small fish known for this kind of activity. So if you know where a good weed bed is located on the lake, you can try fishing it earlier in the ice season.