How does this make any sense? Good Question. If you properly manage your gear, you will have more time with your line in the water. I will give a few good tips to help keep your lines wet in a more productive manner. A dry line catches no fish!
Tip 1: Auger
This is the quintessential beginning to your fishing trips. If you are trying to drill your holes with a dull auger you will be struggling the whole day. This struggle will sadly bring on fatigue which I assure you keeps you from being focused on your presentation and most definitely will lead to missed strikes. Along with this fatigue you will be less inclined to drill more holes. One element to success with ice fishing is fishing many holes. Consider each hole that you drill a cast, you probably do not go open water fishing and only make tens casts. The more holes that you drill then the higher your chances for success.
Tip 2: Fishing Line
This is the first line of your attack. When fishing with old weak line you will be spending more time with break offs with each break off you end up spending too much time re-tying new jigs. It is recommended that you replace your line at the start of every season with a quality line. Quality line is essential. As with all your gear, always go for quality products and this holds more value with your line than anything considering this is your connection to the fish. If you are fishing with a lesser quality line you are increasing your risk for failure.
Periodically through your season it is recommended that you remove the end few feet of line. Why remove this line at the end? This practice removes the damaged section which if left unchecked would increase your chance of line failure. What to look for is more of what to feel for. To inspect your line, run it between your fingers feeling for any kinks or abrasions. A good time for this inspection is the evening before your next outing when you are tying on your jigs. This preparation will pay off during your outing with less failure and having rods ready to go. A little preparation goes a long way.
Tip 3: Good Traction
How can this save you time and help you catch more fish? Walking on ice that is free of snow is quite slippery and very treacherous. Wearing proper apparel on your feet such as Yaktrax or MICROspikes will keep you mobile and more agile, safely taking you from hole to hole. It is very basic. Poor traction while on the ice, takes you more time to safely navigate your way across the ice. Saving this time keep you sitting at a hole catching fish. Now, it gets deeper than this if you do not have adequate traction then you increase you chances for injury. If you are hurt, then your not fishing. You may be down for the day or for the whole season and this is something that we do not want. This tip may save you time, but it may also save you from unnecessary injury and prevent you from missing an already short season.
Tip 4: Shelters or Buckets
Do you fish from a shelter or from a bucket? The bucket can be a highly mobile organized means of fishing. You have everything that you need organized, all in one spot that can be carried from hole to hole. They can hold your sonar, add a rod holder to the side of the bucket for extra convienience, add a bucket tackle organizer to keep you tackle available, and you can even place you catch in the bucket. This will keep you mobile, spending less time picking up your gear and more time fishing. Now the larger option is the sled style shelter or the chair style shelter. The sled style comes from any manufacturers. The use of a shelter adds additional levels of control to your fishing success. By using a shelter with proper storage techniques all of you equipment is properly stored and readily available at all times. Most anglers are quite creative designing rod holders that can be attached to your seat or making trays that can hold things below your seat. Whatever the design or manufacturer having a sled keeps all of your gear safely in one place. Take the steps necessary to organize it all. Regardless of your choice of a bucket, sled or chair, if all of your gear is in one place and properly organized you will be saving time. This saved time will increase the time you have to catch fish.
Tip 5: Rod Storage
Good rod storage is essential. If stored properly your rods will be less prone to breakage and tangles. Rod storage can come in many different ways. One is a rod bag. A rod bag under most circumstances regardless of manufacturers usually has a large compartment in the center to place your rods and multiple compartments on the sides to organize and store your tackle. There are also rod bags that are similar to those used for open water rods that have a rigid tube and an opening at the reel end that you can slide the rod in and zip the end closed. These are most commonly used for single rods and occasionally for multiples. Though it is recommended to get a rod bag or suitable match you can make your own rod holders out of PVC pipe and attach them to your shelter, bucket & even four wheeler. Regardless of choice, the end result is the goal of protecting your rods from breakage and keeping them from getting tangled together.
Tip 6 Multiple Rods
Multiple rods? You may wonder how multiple rods can be a part of time management and catching more fish. Remember the more often you keep a line in the water the higher a chance you have a catching fish. By having multiple rods, you can have many jigging presentations rigged and readily available. You will want rods rigged for a vertical jigging spoon, for a jigging minnow presentation, a horizontal jig and lastly a rod for dead sticking. By having multiple rods rigged it saves you time tying on a new jig just to try a new presentation style. Depending on your style and budget this can be quite expansive. As a tournament angler I find I can save time with multiple rods rigged with different horizontal jigs as well as some rigged with jigging spoons or jigging minnows. Regardless of your stile or budget it is best to have multiple rods rigged and ready to go. It takes seconds to change rods but with cold fingers and small diameter line it may take minutes to change jigs.
Tip 7: Sonar
The use of sonar saves a large amount of time. You will have the ability to quickly move from hole to hole checking for the presence of fish. Sonar gives you an immediate display of the presence of fish with out the use of a camera, which takes a significant amount of time to move from hole to hole. If your sonar does not have an immediate display of fish it is ok to stop and fish these holes. To do this, choose one of your pre-rigged rods and fish each hole for a minute or two. If there is no immediate reaction from a fish then move on to another hole repeating this until you find the fish displaying on your sonar. As you get better with the use of sonar you will spend far more time catching fish and less time wondering if they are even present. If you are fishing in a spot that has no fish then you are wasting time that you could be using towards catching fish in a different location.
All prices are in USD.