This time we will relate some methods we used to catch fish through the ice. Since the l960’s equipment has advanced tremendously. Today, you can buy equipment which actually show fish and the depth they are located on a video screen. It is a long way from the traditional methods we used. Still, any legal methods for fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities are fine with me.

When we started ice fishing many years ago, an angler was limited to five lines; that means one could use a combination of ice rods, two was the maximum, and three tip ups. Or you could use five tip ups or other combinations. Most times while fishing with my companions, we rigged three tip ups each with minnows for pike, bass or walleye and trout, and two jigging rods. That combination gave us maximum exposure for all the types of fish in that lake.

Ice jigging rods are short, often just three feet in length. We would use a small jig or spoon topped with grubs as bait and a small bobber to indicate bites. It always amazed us that even some big fish barely moved the bobber on the bite. Often, an angler would only get one hole drilled for a jigging rod and the fish would be biting. Usually, we would each drill our two jigging rod holes just two feet apart so we could watch and jig each while sitting. The most action came from jigging from near the bottom, pausing, then raising the rod tip a feet or so and jigging again. Often, the angler would rise as the jig neared the surface. It was also a good way to keep warm.

As any ice angler can relate, the fish bite through the ice is always uncertain. We liked days with little or even no wind for our best fishing. Sun or clouds meant little. Time of day was unimportant except the late afternoon usually caused good action. I can well remember fishing at Rose Valley Lake near Trout Run. This 350 acre lake had many coves and varied water depths. The bluegill bite increased in the two hours prior to darkness.

We often carried propane lanterns and fished into the evening hours. As any angler can relate, one does not quit fishing when the bite is on. We all came home with lots of good eating fish after many of our ice fishing trips. I usually fished at least one day during the week and almost every Saturday.

Ice fishing is good sport; one where the more anglers the better. Get out and enjoy the wonderful things in nature that God has given to us.


Jim Collins is an outdoor writer for the Daily Review. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association (1983) and the Outdoor Writers Association of America (1984). He lives in Alba PA with his wife, Linda Marie. You may contact him at: