Winter Fishing Conservation Review

Just because it is cold now doesn’t mean fishing stops. Amazingly, some northern parts of the country have been looking forward to fishing through a thick layer of solid ice. Fish, although sluggish now, continue to bite, even in the lowest temperatures of the year. You just need to adjust your fishing techniques and gear. Once we do catch fish in the winter, we still need to remember how best to conserve the fishery for the future.

For instance, when ice fishing in the cold there are many tips to help anglers stay warm and safe. Fish require some extra attention during really cold temperatures too. Fish gills and eyes can freeze in just seconds of cold air exposure. If you plan on releasing the fish, keep them wet, have the right tools, and work quickly.

Pay attention to the hook set. Bites in cold water have a tendency to be much softer. In fact, you may just start to feel weight at the end of your line. Setting the hook early keeps the hook near the edge of the mouth. If you are using tip-ups, consider the circle hook technique.

Don’t forget to follow regulations. Just because the fish may have been caught in extremely cold conditions, the same size restrictions apply. Recently I read a report that two 50+ inch muskies were caught through the ice at local lake. Both fish were released. Not only will someone else maybe get to experience an amazing fish, but those top predators are doing their job of keeping fish such as crappie from stunting.

Until my family can find some vacation time to head south and escape the cold, we are going to make the most of it. Winter fishing can be great as long as you take extra precautions for you and the fish. 

Hope everyone found a gift certificate for a 2017 fishing license in their stocking!
Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to since 2011.