All kinds of useful information on the sport of ice fishing

By Don Quilici

According to Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus, "Ice" is water frozen solid by cold.

Well, at this time of the year, and particularly this year in this general area, we certainly have plenty of water frozen solid by cold on all of our creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and reservoirs.

And, that ice-covering effectively inhibits your opportunity to catch fish....unless you are an ice fisherman.

This week's column is devoted to that unique outdoor activity.

Ice fishing is a sport, which requires a whole different set of fishing techniques, gear and clothing as opposed to lazy fishing on a warm summer day.

So, if you've never tried fishing through the ice, here's some information that should be more than enough to get you "hooked" on the sport of ice fishing:

First, when to venture out onto ice:

According to a past issue of "The Splash," the official publication of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, the following are safety, ice-thickness guidelines:

Blue, clear ice is safer than cloudy ice.

One inch of ice: Stay off.

Two to three inches of clear, blue ice: Will support one adult walking.

Four inches thick: Is needed for safe ice fishing.

Five inches thick: Is needed for snowmobiling.

Eight inches: Needed to support a car or a light truck.

Ten inches: Needed to support a medium-weight truck.

Be careful out there and when in doubt, don't go out. Remember that currents under the ice and slush on the ice may effect the thickness.

Note: Because I am a chicken when it comes to the possibility of breaking through the ice on a pond or lake or reservoir, I do not venture out onto ice that is less than six inches thick.

I would rather be safe than sorry!

Second, what do you need to be able to go ice fishing:

You need to have such things as thick socks, waterproof insulated boots, layered clothing for variable weather conditions, wool cap, warm gloves, sunglasses and sunscreen.

If you're like me, you will also need plenty of tasty food and lots of hot drinks in Thermos-type jugs.

Be sure to take a piece of thick rug or a piece of plywood to stand on, while out on the ice. If you don't, your feet will get very cold, very fast.

Also take a folding chair or sturdy plastic bucket for sitting. It sure makes the waiting for the fish to bite a whole lot more comfortable.

And, if you are really sneaky, like me, you will also have a portable, battery-powered, depth-finder and fish locator.

I have a "Buddy III," which I can stick down in the hole and then "see" down to 240 feet and out to 120 feet on the side. Plus it gives me the distance to any fish that it locates. It's almost like cheating, but what the heck, it's legal!

Third, what do you need in the way of a fishing license:

A Calif. annual Non-Resident fishing license will cost you $89.50 for 2005.

A Calif. 10-day (10 consecutive days) Non-Resident license is $33.35.

A Calif. second rod stamp is $10.25. That stamp allows you to fish with two poles.

You can purchase those licenses and stamps at a number of different locations in this general area.

I bought my annual license and Second Rod Stamp from good friend Dave Kirby at the Woodfords General Store in Woodfords, Calif.

Note: Be aware that California requires you to wear your fishing license where it is readily visible above the waist.

Fourth, what do you need to fish through the ice:

Obviously, you need an ice auger (manual or gas operated).

If you don't have one, you desperately need a friend or relative with one.

In the State of California, your ice hole must be eight inches or less in diameter, according to the currrent F&G rules and regulations.

You will also need a very small fishing pole and reel.

My pole is only about 2.5-3 feet long and my tiny reel has 4-pound test line.

For the best results, slowly jig up and down with small, shiny or bright-colored lures such as Kastmaster, Phebe, Mepps, Super Duper or TOR-P-DO.

You can also jig with nightcrawlers, Power Bait, Salmon eggs, cocktail Shrimp, mealworms, a kernel of corn, or various combinations of those baits, jigged just off the bottom.

Fifth, where to go ice fishing:

Some of the more popular, nearby ice fishing destinations are:

Caples Lake, Red Lake and Silver Lake, which are all located south of Carson City, along Calif. S.R. 88).

Davis Lake, located just north of Portola by way of Grizzly Road.

Frenchman's Reservoir, located a few miles north of Chilcoot.

Boca Reservoir or Stampede Reservoir, located just east of Truckee.

Sixth, here is some additional information about Red and Caples Lakes:

Red Lake (Is located about 35 miles south of Carson City).

The parking area is also a very popular destination for cross country skiers.

So if you don't arrive early, you could be out of luck in finding a parking spot.

Fish near the parking area, close to shore in fairly shallow water areas (8-10 feet of water).

You can catch Lahontan cutthroat, Eastern brook or rainbow trout.

It is reported that there are about three feet of ice on the lake, currently.

Caples Lake (Is located about 50 miles south of Carson City).

There are two dams. Fish in front of the dam nearest to Carson City.

You can catch such species as Lahontan cutthroat, cuttbow (a hybrid crossbreed between a male Lahontan cutthroat trout and a female rainbow trout), Eastern brook, German brown, Mackinaw (lake) or rainbow.

It is reported that there are about four feet of ice on the lake, currently.

Finally, why not give the sport of ice fishing a try this weekend:

It sure beats moping around the house, watching TV and waiting for warm weather to return.

• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can't tell you how many total fish, I have caught while ice fishing with good friend Doug Busey of Douglas County.

If he begins to laugh and says, "Don has never caught a single fish on a number of different ice fishing trips with Doug," he could have been on one of those miserable trips.


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