Introducing Children to Ice Fishing

by Free Speech on January 24, 2011

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

      There has been ice thick enough for ice fishing for the last month and on some smaller bodies of water there has been “good’ ice for over six weeks. This means that it is time to take the kids out and introduce them to ice fishing. One of my don’ts for ice fishing is to take the children out too early in the season on the first ice where safety can be a major concern for all. I have always thought that you, besides being a fisherman, are also a father who should always have your children’s safety come first when it comes to outdoor activities like ice fishing. To me, safe ice is at least 5 or 6 inches thick. Besides the thick ice, you should always have an “eye” on the children and keep them away from pressure creaks, feeder creeks and streams, warm water discharges, and any moving water like what you may find on a river, like the ice shelves that form below the many dams on the Wisconsin River. Keep the children close to you and in case fishing is slow, plan to have some “other” activities to keep the fishing trip enjoyable and fun for the children. It is not a bad idea to have younger children wear a life jacket. This first introduction to ice fishing should always be fun because the first impression is very important to today’s child and their future opinion of ice fishing. You want the kids to catch some fish and have fun at the same time. Don’t take children out fishing for walleyes or northern pike where the time between catching a fish could be hours and possibly even getting skunked. What you ideally want is to be somewhere where fishing is constant and fish (no matter what species) bite regularly or at least semi-regularly giving the children the opportunity to catch their own fish.

      This introduction to ice fishing must be enjoyable and fun to get a child hooked on fishing. Take the children to ponds and lakes where there are abundant fish to be caught no matter the size or species of fish. Catching a few fish is important in the beginning for a child to learn to like ice fishing. Take the time to show the youngsters how you’re fishing and show them the proper use of the equipment that they are using and include a little talk on safety while on the ice. You’ll see the joy and excitement in the child’s face after they catch a few fish on their own.

      Last weekend, the Yahara Fishing Club held their Annual Kid’s Ice Fishing Day at Brittingham Park and Monona Bay. This is usually a great location to take children because the bluegills usually bite readily though they may be small in size. But, last week at the kid’s outing the fishing was the slowest that I have seen in the “Triangle” area in years. The fish may have moved or just shut-down, but this is normally a good location for fishing with children. There were hundreds of children on the ice, so there is definitely interest among the children for trying ice fishing! The Yahara Fishing Club gave away hundreds of rods and reels which will get many youngsters started ice fishing. It’s been proven time and time again that you have to start children fishing when they are young or they will be lost from the sport for life.

     There are other waters in the area where children can fish and have success. Marshall Park, Spring Harbor, the Alliant Energy Center ponds, the Warner Park Lagoons, Lake Waubesa, and Lake Wingra are all local areas where fishing can be good especially for bluegills and crappies. Another nice thing about these places is that:  1) they are close to parking lots, so the walk is not too far for the kids. 2) there are plenty of fish that are usually active, 3) you don’t need any fancy equipment to catch panfish. A light and sensitive rod and reel with a spring bobber on the tip to detect light bites, an assortment of ice jigs for panfish, wax worms or spikes for bait, and a 5 gallon pail to sit on is all that is needed to catch some fish. A portable ice shanty is also nice to have if it is cold and windy the day you fish. The last thing that you want is a cold child that isn’t dressed right. This is not what you want when taking children on the ice in the beginning of a youngster’s ice fishing career. A cold child is not a happy child! 4) You’ll catch some fish, so the kids can eat some bluegills or crappies that they caught themselves. The children will also learn something about cleaning fish and the important catch and release practice.

     No matter where you live in the Upper Midwest, there are places like this where you can take your children to catch fish through the ice and learn a little more about ice fishing. The key is to take the kids to a location where they will catch fish and hopefully get hooked on fishing for life. Make your kid’s ice fishing experience fun and enjoyable and you may have a fishing partner for life!  www.garyengbergoutdoors.com

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