On my website, IllinoisOutdoorsTV.com I have a fishing and hunting forum where avid anglers will post fishing reports. These reports are enjoyed by many and if you happen to be at home or at work, it's a convenient avenue to see what's happening on the water and in the fields.
I should probably backtrack that statement a little. Actually, saying the site is used by "avid" anglers is not totally accurate. There are a number of anglers who use the site who are just getting into fishing, those who love to fish but just can't get out often enough and some who just like to read about fishing.
So, let's just suffice it to say that a lot of people check on the reports, submit comments and ask questions.
Because of the cold weather lately, ice fishing has become a hot topic. Surprisingly, there are several guys who post on the forum that are out there constantly seeking places to fish. What I am not surprised about is that a lot of the ponds in the Lincoln-Way area are being explored.
Ice fishing is obviously a bit different than fishing open water. In ponds, park district lakes, and retention ponds, we're pretty much limited to shore fishing when the water is open. But during the ice season, ice anglers are able to walk on water, drill a lot of holes, and learn a bit more about what may be their favorite summertime fishing hole.
The true success of ice fishing comes with the drilling of a lot of holes. When fishing a lake or pond that has no boating access, there really is no way to accurately determine the depths and structure in the pond. With a hard surface during the ice season, a hole can be drilled and a depth finder used to determine the depth and the make up of the bottom.
For those who don't have a portable electronics, a fifty-nine cent depth finder often works just fine. This is a half ounce weight that has a spring loaded clip molded into it. Attached the clip to your fishing line and let it down to the bottom. Often you can feel if it is soft (mud) or hard (rock). Actually, when the water is clear, you can look down into the water and see of there are weeds in the area. A useful tool my many ice anglers is an underwater camera.
More knowledgeable anglers will take note of what they find on the ice so they can bring it to the lake during the spring and summer. But most importantly, with the work of making a lot of holes and checking depth and for weeds, successful fishing trips come about in future outings.
A lot of panfish have been caught in the Lincoln-Way area through the ice. In most cases, they have been bluegills. Crappies are doing okay but often, I have learned, they come just before dark and shortly there after.
Anglers using live minnows and jigging spoons have caught an occasional bass through the ice. This is pretty much what one could expect when fishing small local ponds; bluegills, crappies and an occasional bass.
A tip up in a simple form is a reel that is attached to a half inch by half inch pieces of wood that are about 18 inches long. They lay criss crossed across a hole in the ice with a third piece that has the reel that goes into the water.. With the line out the tip up has a triggering device that holds the line at a determined depth and holds on to a spring loaded flag. When a fish takes the bait and moves off, the line pulls out of the reel, releases the flag and it pops up signaling that there is a fish on. It's a simple device but yet a very effective tool for ice fishing. There are all kinds of variations on the market.
Many people say that it has to be unbelievably cold to sit on the ice and fish in one spot all day long. Well, if you dress properly for the cold weather and move around some, it really isn't all that bad. Pop up ice shanties are growing in popularity. Some are quite comfortable and with a little heater, you can fish out of the wind and stay pretty warm.
There are a lot of ponds close to home that are worth a try. Just check with the local park districts and always obtain permission to fish subdivision and corporate retention ponds first. If you're not sure about the public use of a pond anywhere, ask around before venturing out. You surely will find some excellent places to fish and quickly learn that great fishing is not that far away even when the water is frozen.