i finally realized after 18 years of my life that i am just not made for ice fishing haha. even though i get really pumped for it everytime, im always extremely disappointed afterwards. unless something happens i think im just gonna stick to open water. haha sorry i just wanted to share my frustrations
I share most of your frustrations. Ice fishing takes a lot of work and I think more so than open water fishing it takes the right gear. Without a flasher, gas auger, portable shelter, etc... it can be tough.
I enjoy ice fishing but I don't do it all that often beacuse I lack all of the gear mentioned above. I've learned to enjoy ice fishing for reasons beyond catching fish. I enjoy it because I always go out with friends and its nice to get out and do something during the winter months.
I wouldn't let poor fishing during an ice fishing contest get to you too much though. Ice fishing contests like that are nothing more than a lottery. You buy your ticket and hope to get lucky. Its 99% luck and 1% skill. With so many people in one little area its surprising that people catch anything at all really.
Ah yes... If I could tell you of the hundreds, if not thousands of hours spent without so much as a nibble. Ice fishing can be a lot of work, especially when the fish are not cooperating. Fishing greatly improved for me when I got a flasher and pointers on how to use it and what I was seeing and doing. I mainly target crappie now, though I will catch an occassional northern or walleye, but they seem to be flukes since I use micro jigs with no live bait. For finnicky crappies, I drop the jig down to about 4 to 6 inches above them and slowly raise the jig trying to get them to follow it. If it is really slow, I can get them to maybe take a bite on the way up and repeat this many times before I can get one to bite. It takes a lot of patients and time. Of course, if they are biting, it doesn't matter what I throw down there... they will usually hit while the jig is going down or a minute or two later. It seems they like to hit things that are right above them. It's hard to get them to go down and get the bait.
Even eminent chartered accountants are known, in their capacity as fishermen, blissfully to ignore differences between seven and ten inches, half a pound and two pounds, three fish and a dozen fish. ~ William Sherwood Fox, Silken Lines and Silver Hooks, 1954