The sport of catching fish through an opening in the ice, in a frozen body of water, is called ice fishing. Fisherman use lines with hooks or spears, and they may sit out in the open on a frozen lake, or more comfortably sit inside a heated cabin, sometimes called a shanty. Some shanties even have bunks and other conveniences.
Ice fishing is popular in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Norway, Germany, and Canada. In the United States people who live around the Great Lakes, people in Alaska, and those in other areas with lakes and long, cold winters participate in ice fishing. One of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie can freeze over completely, while the other ones do not usually freeze over entirely. The bays of the Great Lakes do freeze though, and they are quite popular ice fishing areas. Northern pike and yellow perch are the most common catches in these areas.
The fishing gear used is highly specialized. An ice pick, an auger, or a saw is used to cut a smaller circular hole or a larger rectangular hole in the ice. Sometimes even power augers are used. At times a strainer is needed in order to remove any newly formed ice.
There are three main types of fishing for the sport of ice fishing. The first is called jigging for fish, and it requires light, small fishing rods with brightly colored, smaller lures, or bait such as moussies or wax worms. Allowing for less intensive or unattended fishing, tip ups are sometimes used. These are a line which is attached to a flag that tips up when a bite occurs. Lines are pulled in by hand and no reel is used. For spear fishing, the fisherman stands over a large hole with a spear in hand. Spears are most often used for Lake Sturgeon fishing.
There are some dangers in the sport of ice fishing, and care must be taken before going onto any ice. The ice needs to be at least four inches thick in order to support the weight of walking humans. It needs to be at least a foot deep in order to support the weight of a vehicle. Late winter warm spells and off shore winds can destroy the texture of the ice, and is referred to as rotten ice. While the ice may be thick enough, it will not adequately support weight. Other dangers include carbon monoxide poisoning in fishing shelters from heaters, and also frostbite from extended exposure to cold temperatures and wind.
Ice fishing has been considers a quasi sport for a long time because some people say that there is little skill involved, and that success is achieved only by good fortune; but, research by the American Ice Fishing Association shows that it can be a very calming sport for everyone. They also concluded that it helps to manage the fish species population, and it also adds to economic growth, and the well being of those who participate.
For more information on all aspects of ice fishing, and to download a free guide, visit The Fishermans Guide