COLD TEMPERATURES ICING ON THE CAKE FOR ANGLERS
Frozen lakes lure ice fishermen, but caution is urged
PRATT — Brutally frigid December temperatures have most Kansans huddled around the fireplace, but avid anglers are more likely to be found in the garage tuning up an ice-fishing sled. Single digit nighttime temperatures and daytime highs below freezing have left many lakes and reservoirs frozen. While this sounds promising for the ice-fisherman, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) warns anglers not to be hasty in their desire to fish through the ice.
Lakes and reservoirs in the northern half of the state usually freeze first, and lakes elsewhere follow suit — if temperatures stay consistently cold. When this happens, sleds replace bass boats as fishermen huddle on stools and buckets, staring intently at small holes in the ice. But common sense should be the guide. Solid ice — at least 4 inches thick — is the first requirement for good ice fishing, and temperatures near zero for several days are necessary on most lakes. Never go near open water or on rivers near even the smallest trickle of current.
Even when these conditions have been met, caution is advised. A fall into icy water can be deadly. And because Kansas weather is so variable, cold spells can be quickly followed by warm days, making even thick ice treacherous. However, once ice has hardened, a few test holes will let the angler know if it’s safe. Anglers are advised to check KDWP reservoir fishing reports or call local offices or bait shops before driving any distance to ice fish.
It's not for everyone, but for the avid angler, sitting on a bucket over ice in frigid weather can yield plenty of excitement and full creels of crappie, white bass, and stripers. Proper equipment, of course, is the key to success. Extra clothing and, in case of emergency, a change of clothes are essential, as is a rope and buoyant throw cushion. An ice auger is the handiest way to cut fishing holes. A ladle will help clear ice chips from the hole.
Most anglers build or modify sleds just to pull their gear on the ice. The proper fishing equipment is also essential. Because strikes are usually light when water is cold, short, sensitive rods and light line are necessary. Still, a reel with a good drag system is a must for larger species such as wipers and stripers. As for bait, jigging spoons, rubber-bodied jigs, and even live bait work great under the ice.
The law allows only holes 12 inches in diameter or 12 inches square, or smaller. In addition to the allowed two attended fishing lines, eight tip-ups are allowed per angler, unless otherwise posted. Tip-ups may have a maximum of two hooks each. Unattended tip-ups must be plainly tagged with the angler's name and address. County or city lakes may also have local regulations controlling icefishing.