Ice Fishing First-Timer

No stranger to the ice

I’ve spent many winters - and summers - on the ice, but it’s usually on an indoor ice rink where I figure skate! And, although I've been known to skate on outdoor rinks and frozen lakes on occassion, for this adventure I left the blades at home and hit the frozen waters with some tip-ups and an auger.

I had never tried ice fishing until recently. My boyfriend, Ian, has gained more and more interest in the last few years, and for Christmas he asked for a power ice auger. Being the amazing person that I am, I bought one for him, and I had to be there when he tried it out for the first time. I had no idea how to use a tip-up, an auger, or that the ladle that you use to get the bait out of the bucket is an actual ice fishing tool, and not just a kitchen tool. 

The first hole drilled!

My first impression

A couple of our friends had gone ice fishing one day out by our house in Lake Clear, and we stopped by to see them on Middle Pond. Shortly after we got there, a flag went up on a tip-up, and the boys asked me if I wanted to pull the fish up. I went over to the tip-up and could definitely feel something on the line, so I gave it a swift tug and continued to pull in the line. I excitedly pulled up a decent-sized perch, and then handed it over because the hook was too far down for me to get it out!

Flags kept going up the rest of the time we were there, and I finally understood the excitement of ice fishing and wanted to try to go for a full day and get the whole experience. 

Setting up our tip ups!

Don't forget the supplies!

Before we went ice fishing for my first time, I learned that there are some supplies needed to get started.

Here's what we brought:

  • A 5-gallon bucket — which we used to put the bait in
  • This thing that I swear looks like a ladle strainer that would go in your kitchen for cooking pasta, but is an actual ice fishing tool used to get the bait out of the bucket
  • The bait (of course), tip-ups, and an auger 
  • A sled which was definitely helpful in carrying all of our gear

You can find these supplies at Blue Line Sports, Coakley High Peaks Ace Hardware, or River Road Bait & Tackle (Bloomingdale). 

Ready for the day!

My first real ice fishing adventure!

There are so many fishing options in the Saranc Lake area we couldn’t decide where to start, so a couple weekends later we drove to Middle Pond with Ian’s younger cousin. Ian excitedly walked out to test the ice and drilled his first hole with the auger. Seeing that the ice was a safe 6-inches deep, we walked further out to drill the rest of the holes and get our tip-ups set up.

I learned that anyone with a fishing license is able to have 7 tip-ups. I bought my fishing license over the summer, and they are valid for one year, so I was good to go. I was anxious to learn what to do, so we picked our first spot to drill a hole. We had bought live bait earlier in the morning, so I learned how to bait the hook appropriately — sticking the hook under the mouth up through the nose. Fun stuff. Then we let the shiner swim into the hole and pull some of the line out. We hooked the flag down and continued on with the process for the other 6 holes. 

Loving the power auger!

A successful day!

While we were setting up the rest of the tip-ups one of our set flags went off and excitement took over. We both ran over to the tip-up to see if anything was on the line, but no luck. We finished the rest of the holes and then waited for a little bit.

We brought our dog so we played around with him while we waited, then we went back out to check all of the bait to make sure it was still alive. Flags continued to pop up, but no fish, and soon disappointment set in. And then finally, another flag went up, and Noah ran over to check the line. He pulled up a decent-sized pike and was beaming with joy! Our luck must have turned at that point because we caught a few more fish after that. 

A happy Noah with his pike!

Plan your own trip

I love ice fishing now, and plan on doing a lot more of it! So my tips to you are to bring friends, bring food, and dress warm! Our next investment will definitely be an ice shanty to stay warm while on our ice fishing adventures. Saranac Lake has plenty of shopping options to stock up on some warm gear and dining options to refuel after a day on the ice.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Annual Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby in Tupper Lake on February 4, and the Colby Classic in Saranac Lake on March 4 and 5. In case you miss those cool events, be sure to plan your next ice fishing trip in Saranac Lake and explore the Adirondacks’ Coolest Place!

This week in related ADK ice fishing news:

3 places to dip your tip

The jig is up

Perfectly perched

Get jiggy with it

Ready, set, fish

Angling for winter

Tip(-ups) from a local

Winter Carnival Invention: Arctic Golf
Breaking resolutions with a smile

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