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.