While spending a couple of restful days at the Woodstock Inn over the New Year, I took in a day on the hardwater with George of Pickett Hill Guide Service in Bennington. Besides giving me my first taste of bear sausage (sinfully good), and serving up a mean venison burger, he taught me the fundamentals of ice fishing. George was a great and patient teacher. 7 largemouth bass and double-digit chain pickerel.
Some things I’ll take away…
- Set up your tip-ups at least 9-10′ apart because winter bass and pickerel are territorial
- Bass suck in the bait and seldom run, requiring finesse when setting the hook
- Pickerel like to run and can get you fouled up in stumpy water
- Typically the tip-ups go off at the farthest distance from where you’re standing!
- Don’t waste a ton of money on expensive tip-ups, there easily fixed and vintage gear can be great
- Come armed with a variety of size bait, small bait = perch, medium bait = bass, big bait = pickerel and lunker bass
- Don’t go out on ice less than 2″, but just 8″ will support an ATV no problem
- Don’t go alone, it’ll be worth getting a guide instead of sitting on a bucket with no clue freezing your balls off
- Sound your depths for each hole and stay above the weedline
- Don’t forget to dress in layers, bring polarized sunglasses, and bring a camera