Joel DeBoer

Another arctic cold snap is upon us, challenging even the most hard-core of winter angler's. While each of us hopes that spring-like weather is just around the corner, this is a fine time to visit some of the strategies and techniques useful for scoring on fish during these cold snap conditions.

One of the most obvious, but important points to keep in mind is to make sure you're well prepared for the adverse conditions before venturing forth. You can't catch fish if you're not fishing, and you can't be fishing if you do not have the proper cold weather gear available. To being, make sure to have ample clothing along, even if you're "sure" you won't need it. There is a huge difference between standing in the driveway loading the truck and standing in the middle of a lake after several hours of fishing. Quality long underwear, socks, hats, boots, gloves, jackets, and the like are all imperative tools in the hard water angler's repertoire.

These coverings not only will provide the comfort needed to stay on the water, but ultimately the safety as well. Frostbite is of definite concern in winter, especially when facing the wind chills and sub-zero temperatures that a Wisconsin winter can offer up.
Accessories such as hand warmers, foot warmers, and a quality propane-fueled heater are "must-haves" when confronting the arctic blasts. There are few times I head out onto the ice without my portable Frabill ice shack; not only does it allow me the chance to stay mobile and thus keep on active fish, but also the sanctuary necessary to warm myself and my guests in addition to equipment such as locators, digital cameras, and other items sensitive to the cold.
Additional batteries are a great addition to the ice fishing pack during severe weather.

From tip-up lights to digital cameras to locators, having extra battery power along will help keep you in the hunt for big fish while helping to avoid the frustrations that go along with equipment failure. Store extra batteries in the warmest spot you can find, be it in an ice shack or running truck. Guaranteed, there will come a time when you will be glad you had the back up power sources available.

Jigging during the freezing cold certainly offers a challenge to say the least. While doing so in a heated shack remedies the situation most times, anglers forced to do so out in the open are not completely out of luck. For starters, construct a wind block to help alleviate some of the troubles a blowing breeze may encompass; this may be something as simple as parking your truck or ice shack upwind from the area you are fishing. It sounds simple, but will make a big difference.

Also, position your portable heater up wind as well. Not only will this help keep the area you're fishing a shade warmer, it will also keep from having your line blow into the burner plate resulting in a damaged or severed line. By having an ample supply of fuel on hand, you will be able to run your heater at a higher level for much longer, making for as pleasant an experience as possible.

Regarding tip up fishing, the debate rages on conventional styles versus the newer "thermal" designs offered by companies such as Wisconsin based Frabill. Hand down the Frabill thermal tip ups shine in these conditions. The key to their success is packing a base of snow along the seam between the tip up and the hole itself. This layer will act as insulation and offer you the best opportunity at keeping your lines from freezing up.

No matter which style of tip up you choose, you must check lines regularly to keep ice as free from the hole as possible. Refusing to do so will only encompass a brush with Murphy's Law the big one WILL bite on the tip up frozen solid, and you WILL lose the fish. Laugh it you must, but it happens every season. Finally, keep an ample supply of healthy live bait available and don't hesitate to keep your presentation fresh.

While the "old school" of thought says to wait-it-out in an area during rougher than usual weather, I prefer to continue moving until I find areas of active fish. Our finned quarries don't all stop eating just because the weather stinks. Find the ones that are biting, stay on them, and go home with more then a runny nose and pink cheeks. I'll see you on the water

Tight lines,
Joel DeBoer

Joel DeBoer

About The Author: Joel DeBoer

Company: Wisconsin Angling Adventures

Area Reporting: Central and Northern Wisconsin

Bio: Greetings and welcome to the Northwoods! My name is Joel DeBoer; I grew up fishing the waters of Central and Northern Wisconsin and enjoying the beauty of Wisconsin's outdoors - I can guarantee you will enjoy them as well! As owner of Wisconsin Angling Adventures, I'll work hard to keep you on the fish and show you a good time out on the water! Through countless days and nights on the water, I have worked hard to uncover local "hotspots" while prefecting the techniques necessary to produce trophy fish from them. I have been an active member of Muskies Inc. and Bill's Musky Club, and am responsible for numerous awards for muskies caught and released by my clients as well as myself. In addition to guiding, I am an active musky tournament fisherman, having multiple Top 10 finishes. Not only do I fish tournaments for muskies, but a variety of local tournaments for walleyes and bass. I am active on the internet - providing articles and fishing reports to over 15 different web sites, in addition to doing web-radio shows. I am a published outdoor author and educator, including my weekly column, "The Guides Corner" in the Everest Herald. I specialize in multi-media presentations and seminars on the vast aspects of musky fishing. Please feel free to email me, at ANY time. In addition, take an opportunity to visit my bio pages at the St. Croix Rod or VMC Hooks Pro-Staff pages as a further reference. I am thankful to the wonderful companies I am privileged to work with promotionally: Bait Rigs * DeLONG Lures * Ducktail Lures * Dunwright Tackle * Frabill * Mepps * Mister Twister * Mercury * Optima Batteries * Pure Fishing (Abu Garcia, Berkley, Stren) * Roberts Outdoors * St. Croix * VMC Hooks

Click Here For Past Fishing Reports by Fishing Guide Joel DeBoer