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Go sit on a lake

1/27/2016

No need to stay inside during the long winter months waiting for the sun to come out and dreaming about open water and summer fun. Now’s the time to be adventurous, bundle up, get outside and try fishing in a whole new way — through the ice. Ice fishing can be fast and furious when winter seals the lakes under ice, but, best of all, there are no mosquitoes or flies to “bug” you.DSC02808

Whether a novice or a pro with an ice auger, all are invited out to improve their skills and experience the thrills of ice fishing with Polk County Conservation’s Ice Fishing Basics at Easter Lake on Feb. 6 or Jester Park on Feb. 20.

“Just show up, and you’re good to go. There is no pre-registration,” said Charlie Finch, park ranger with Polk County Conservation. “We supply the fishing poles and bait. The most important things you need to remember to bring is something to sit on and dress appropriately for the weather.”

The ice fishing course is designed for anyone interested in ice fishing but maybe has never gone out, said Finch. It’s also for those who would like to learn more about the sport.

“The first part of the day we will go over ice fishing itself, talking about ice safety, preparedness and different types of equipment like ice augers, heaters, fishing poles and bait,” Finch said. “Basically just trying to get everyone to understand the basics to starting ice fishing.”

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Time to get real: Ice fishing is one of the most dangerous methods of fishing, and it’s important to follow the safety steps to ensure that you make it back home with all your appendages. Instructors will teach what times it’s safe to go out on the ice, how thick the ice should be, how cold it is and more.

“There are tons of variables for when the ice is safe to go out on,” Finch said. “That’s why we stress how important it is to check the ice before you go out. We don’t recommend going on any ice thinner than 4 inches. As of right now, the ice is anywhere from 6 to 10 inches.”

There is plenty to remember when on the ice, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun. Finch is an active ice fisherman on and off the clock and loves the freedom it affords.

“When you fish on a lake, a lot of people are limited to the shoreline because they don’t have a boat or canoe,” Finch said. “The advantage of ice fishing is that you have access to the entire lake. This one time of the year, you can go out on any part of the lake you want.

“There is also a lot of habitat under the water, with trees and rock piles where fish like to congregate. A lot of the time those places aren’t accessible from the shoreline. Ice fishing allows you to actually go where the fish are rather than wait for them to come to you.” CV

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