I ice fish almost everyone weekend once the ice is safe. It's alot of fun, and makes the wait until next years bass season a little more bearable. Try www.iceshanty.com ..... they have some real good tips and its a good plave for a begginer to learn how to ice fish.
If you are willing to travel, come upstate, drill a few holes anywhere near Noel (wnybassman), and you will catch a ton of fish. I just started ice fishing last winter (like you, I also had a hard time putting away the gear), and it was a blast. The start up gear is easy to find, and not very expensive. The way I did it, it was really inexpensive-I just borrowed some of OnceBittens stuff. The websites all have great ideas and suggestions for gear. Ice shanty has get togethers (derby's, I guess), which are alot of fun. I'll keep you updated on the ones around here.
I have ice fished in the past, but really got "into it" last season. If I had to guess, I would say I spent 35 days or so sitting on the ice last season. we had PLENTY of safe ice around, which makes it that much more enjoyable.
It is relatively inexpensive to get started. Rob and I were figuring last year, that about $350-$400 is what it would take for EVERYTHING you need. That includes a cheap shanty, decent auger, heater, rods and all other misc. gear you would need. Of coarse the shanty is about half of that cost, so you can decrease the total by half eliminating it (you'll enjoy icefishing alot more with it though LOL!!!)
Start out by going after fairly easy to catch panfish, and proceed to harder species after that. That would be my best advice!
Ice fishing really took the "edge" off the long winter wait to fish again. This winter was the first year I had ever ice fished - interestingly, it started on New Years Day. I didn't even notice that it was the coldest winter in a quarter-century in Western New York! I really didn't!
How fun it was to stare down the hole and see the action of the fish fighting down there (watching is easy when you are in the dark environs of a warm ice shelter). You can watch your ice jig and bait jiggle with the action you impart on it, tempting the strikes of fish.
Thanks to Noel's investment in a "Clam 2000" shelter, we fished almost every weekend, on Conesus Lake, Honeoye Lake, Silver Lake, Wilson Harbor & Lake Alice. We caught a LOT of good fish. One day, Noel and I probably caught 300 mixed sunnies out of Conesus Lake! We joked at how it was just like summer......fishing every weekend in the dead of winter now!
For panfish, without a doubt, use a shorter, say 24" rod (that's 24" from the tip of the rod to the tip of the butt-end) with the thinnest tip you can find, or use a "spring bobber" on the end of the rod. Such rods look too "whimpy" to fish with, but believe me, they are much better because the strikes of the panfish in frigid water are, at times, undetectable except for a microscopically slight quiver of the rod tip (yet, at other times, they strike ferrociously).
1 to 4 pound test is usually associated with ice fishing, but I say that 4 pound is probably pushing the limit! Seriously! It's just too "thick" in cold weather, and gets springy. It also just feels too heavy. Hard to believe, but true. 2 to 3 pound test is about right, on the smallest spinning reels you can find. Do not fill the spool completely. ¾ full is probably more than enough. It keeps the line from springing off, and many times, you will be fishing in less than 10 feet of water with a rod & reel.
We found that, with all the live bait choices available (mousies, spikes, mealworms, waxworms), plain old waxworms were the best - and often the least expensive.
I have only used tipups a couple times. Great for larger quarry such as pike, pickerel, walleye or trout. I'll let someone else explain the virtues of tipup fishing because I have had practically no experience with them.
NYBass.com had an "Ice Fishing Get-Together" last February. We had a BLAST on both Honeoye and Conesus Lakes, and caught a lot of fish! I put pictures and a synopsis of our two days on the ice on my site, and you can see it by clicking the link below.
pugs... if it gets cold enough downstate, we'll be getting together on long island for some ice fishing... we had some good times last season... last january we had fun at laurel lake... we also tried mahopac and although we couldn't find much of a bite, ttony pulled out a nice smallie!... i will do more research this year to hopefully put us on more fish... we'll be looking for fattie perch like the one barry caught at laurel.
hip, hip, hooray.... being from upstate its the thing to do
come winter time.....as long as you remember that your body will
be subject to the wintertime elements.....and you dress accordingly its a blast....MHO. not terribley exspensive to get into
we always set up tip ups and jig too....your are allowed seven lines in the water at one time.....5 tipup's 2 handlines.....
all tipups must... have your name,address, on somewhere
are not allowed to be unattended.....meaning you can't...
but we have been knowned to do so, set your tip up and go sit in the bar looking out the window.....waiting for a flag up....
you meet some of the nicest people ice fishing..... much like
going to a nascar race........dedicated fisherperson's...its a hoot
give it a try.....just be sure ice is safe.....we grill burger's/ dogs
venison....chili etc.. we always take a frisbie, football, radio...
think of it as a picnic on ice.... we take lawn chairs 4 wheelers, ice skates etc...and your still home in time for sun.
kick off's.........try it you'll like it........:beerchug: :beerchug: