How to fish through the ice

At the time of writing it’s all a bit frozen out there and it’s tempting to spend the weekend sat in front of the fire, the TV or the pub.
Surely only the brave or the daft go fishing in this? Well you might be right (partly) but there are still bites to be had and fish to be caught by breaking a bit of ice. It gets you out of the house and you’re likely to experience some pretty stunning frozen early morning landscapes too.
Here’s the BobCo guide to doing it correctly…

1. Make your breaker

You’ll need something to break the ice with. It pays to have both a light and heavy breaker so get a decent length of rope, a few metres longer than your pole say. On one end attach a metre length of medium chain and as compact a weight as you can find, that you can throw. This could be anything but a piece of metal is best, especially something like a heavy hammer head. On the other end a light weight is ideal for thin ice, you can even use a plastic milk bottle filled with water so it doesn’t sink.

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2. Pick the right venue
If you’re going to break the ice on a lake don’t pick a huge venue where the fish sit well away from the bank. Small, well-stocked commercial fisheries are generally the best bet as the fish won’t venture too far away from you. Some fisheries will keep aerators running overnight, or even have bubblers underwater, to keep their lakes mostly clear.

3. Breaking the ice
This should be your first job, before you attempt to tackle up. First of all don’t put all your jackets or outdoor clothing on yet as you can work up a sweat quickly. Second always wear a pair of gloves when throwing an ice breaker. Be very careful when throwing ice breakers as fishery platforms can be slippy. If in doubt step back a bit or do it from the bank itself.

Remember to keep your foot on the other end of the rope when throwing your breaker. Once it hits the ice and smashes through, try not to let it sink to the bottom but then pull back in short sharp pulls, so the chain saws through the ice.

4. Make a channel

The aim is to make a narrow channel a few metres wide to fish into. Throw your breaker at either side of this, then throw it to the end in the middle, coming back a bit at a time to smash the ice in the middle.
Once the ice is broken up into pieces you can get your pole out and, with a cupping kit, start to push the ice blocks to the side, or bring them back towards you. Get a long landing net pole and push them under the ice that way. Allow yourself a larger area to land fish in at your feet.

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5. Be realistic
You’re probably not going to empty the place of carp when you’ve broken the ice. Instead be realistic and fish light rigs and light tackle for fish such as roach, perch and skimmer bream, up to the edge of the ice you’ve broken.
Maybe a tiny nugget of dark groundbait will help kick things off, feeding a few maggots over the top. Don’t worry if you don’t catch immediately as you probably won’t. But in the afternoon when the temperature rises you should start to get a few fish. Get out there and remember to stay safe!

Photo credits: Fish Matrix. Bradshaw Hall Fisheries