• Last modified 2979 days ago (Jan. 20, 2011)


Sportsman beats winter blues

Urges caution when ice fishing

Managing editor

Recipe for a winter adventure:


2 lightweight fishing rods and reels

1 ice auger

1 5-gallon bucket

1 pair of ice cleats

Multiple layers of clothing and boots


Dress warmly. Locate a pond or lake with at least 6 inches of ice. Cut a hole in the ice, bait line, and drop in water.

Have fun.

Robert and Brandi Hendrix of Marion braved the cold weather Sunday at Marion Reservoir. While their daughter, Sara, was sledding on a hill by the dam, the couple tried their luck at ice fishing.

This is Robert’s first year for ice fishing.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said with a big smile.

From the road on the dam, motorists could see fishermen on the frozen water much of the afternoon, trying their luck at catching elusive crappie and white bass.

Although it looked as if the fishermen were cold, they weren’t.

“I’m sweating,” Hendrix said, as he finished the climb up a hill of rocks from the frozen lake to the road.

Hendrix is wary of frozen ponds because he fell through ice while in the military, but following ice fishing safety rules, he is confident he will be safe.

Carrying an ice auger and wearing ice cleats for traction, Hendrix drilled holes as he walked across the lake, to make sure the ice was thick enough to hold him.

“It’s hard work drilling holes,” he said, adding he worked up a sweat.

“I didn’t have much luck today,” Hendrix said, “but I caught two Saturday night.”

This is something he will do again next year — something that gets him outdoors, doing something fun and adventurous.

Ice fishing safety

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and Ice Fishing World offer these tips:

Never assume ice is safe, no matter how strong it seemed last week. Be cautious every time. Warm daytime temperatures can weaken ice, creating dangerous conditions.

Always make test holes and examine the thickness as well as the quality of the ice.

Never go fishing alone. Be certain fishing gear includes a floating device, a length of rope, and ice picks.

It takes 4 to 6 inches of clear ice to be safe for walking. The thickness of ice isn’t always a guideline. Ice that thaws, then refreezes, can be weakened. Avoid areas where the ice is honeycombed or dark.

Don’t venture on ice that is close to water.

Never drive a vehicle on ice in Kansas. In northern states, such as Minnesota, ice gets thick enough to support a vehicle but not in Kansas and Missouri.

Ice fishing for crappies cannot only be productive but also a good way to prevent cabin fever.

Early and late winter offers the best action.

Ice fishing with baited hooks or lures is legal in Kansas on lakes, reservoirs, and streams. In addition to the allowed two lines, eight tip-ups may be used to ice fish with two hooks each, unless otherwise posted. A tip-up is a device designed to signal the strike of a fish.

Unattended tip-ups must be tagged plainly with the fisherman’s name and address.

Holes cut in the ice of public waters may be no more than 12 inches in diameter or a 12-inch square.

Fishing rods should have large guides with a sensitive tip and some backbone. Micro-spinning reels are recommended.

Line should be 4 to 8-pound test ice line. Bait can be minnows and wax worms. Ice fishing bobbers are recommended. Take other fishing equipment to remove fish from lines.

Ice fishing crappie is the most popular form of ice fishing. Crappie tend to school together and wander in the lakes they inhabit.

Tackle should include a small split shot, small shiner or fathead minnow, small bobber, small hook, and a light-action ice fishing rod. Hook the bait just behind the dorsal fin.

Crappie is popular because they are easy to catch and usually put up a fight.

Last modified Jan. 20, 2011