Vermont Ice Fishing on New Year’s Eve

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…

  1. Set up your tip-ups at least 9-10′ apart because winter bass and pickerel are territorial
  2. Bass suck in the bait and seldom run, requiring finesse when setting the hook
  3. Pickerel like to run and can get you fouled up in stumpy water
  4. Typically the tip-ups go off at the farthest distance from where you’re standing!
  5. Don’t waste a ton of money on expensive tip-ups, there easily fixed and vintage gear can be great
  6. Come armed with a variety of size bait, small bait = perch, medium bait = bass, big bait = pickerel and lunker bass
  7. Don’t go out on ice less than 2″, but just 8″ will support an ATV no problem
  8. Don’t go alone, it’ll be worth getting a guide instead of sitting on a bucket with no clue freezing your balls off
  9. Sound your depths for each hole and stay above the weedline
  10. Don’t forget to dress in layers, bring polarized sunglasses, and bring a camera
Sunrise over the mountains of Vermont

Tip-up is set, the reel is submerged
First Bass of many
2 and 1/2 pounder
Chain Pickerel started in on us
Frozen pond below the mountain
We fished over stumpy water
Bloody holes, an increasingly good sign of a great day


Shadows getting longer
One more


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