Several years ago I posted a blog about what I consider to be the basic “kid’s fishing system”. Unfortunately, I cannot link back to that old blog post, going to have to dust it off and just plain run it again some time. Anywho, it was simple, rods, reels, small floats, small jig-heads, waxworms (yes, waxworms are great bait year around, not just on ice). It is a system that almost never fails for catching some panfish, sunfish, bluegills in most cases, but also has been responsible for a darned lot of other species too, and some BIG fish.
Following that same train of thought, I have a link you need to follow, this is what I would consider to be THE basic system for catching fish through the ice, yes, again mostly panfish, but also a lot of bigger predator fish thrown in for fun. If you are relatively new to the ice-fishing game, and even if you are an “old pro”, take a few minutes, follow the link, read, you will learn something!
I really do not need to add anything, that article is excellent and says it all. But, this is my blog and you know I want to add a couple of comments. . . .
First of all, I have often said that my philosophy on ice is “Drill baby, drill”! The article in the link says the same thing. Modern ice fishing gear is made with mobility in mind, you cannot catch fish where they ain’t. However, it amazes me the anglers I see on the ice who have all the tools, all the gear, and still walk out to the middle of a waterbody, drill four or five holes, and then sit down and fish. At the end of the day, they pick up their gear, walk back to their pickup and then complain about how slow the bite was. Whatever.
Keep moving, when ice-fishing you are basically fishing that one small area right below you, one 8-inch hole at a time (or 6-inch, 10-inch, whatever size hole you make). Sure, you can attract fish to that area, or fish might move through, but if you ain’t catching fish there, MOVE!
Those days when you see fish come in on your depth-finder and cannot seem to get them to bite no matter what you do, MOVE! Most of the time you are not getting those fish to bite because they are dinks anyway, keep moving until you find larger, and more active, fish.
I will hunker down and fish one spot hard when I believe I have found a spot that either is holding fish or will hold fish when they become active and start feeding. For example, I may drill dozens, maybe even a hundred holes, during the day, but circle back to certain spots that held fish or at least had the potential to hold fish, and settle there as the sun starts to get low on the horizon.
Otherwise, keep drilling, keep moving, find fish, catch fish; drill, repeat.