With all of the white stuff outside and these gradually colder nights we are in the midst of winter here in Canada. YAHOO I say! Time to say goodbye to shorts (for at least a couple months) and say hello to floater suits, heavy boots and other assorted winter clothing! It is ice fishing season!

For some of us in the southern tier of Ontario we have not yet had safe ice which has many of us craving the thought of ice fishing…especially me! In other areas of Canada ice fishing is well underway. However, not the case here…..yet. Most of you who have read my profile or know me are fully aware I am a real ‘fish head’ and I will chase fish any where any time I get the chance! Ice fishing is a truly Canadian way to chase our finned friends.

As we tread into the 2013 ice fishing season I have been really impressed with the Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Rods. I have tried MANY rods over the past 20 years I have been chasing fish through 4″ to 8″ holes of ice. These rods are up to any ice fishing challenge. From teasing panfish to pounding walleyes, these rods will get the job done.

Here are my favourite rod/reel/line setups for panfish through an ice covered lake.

Rod Selection
ETI23UL (23”, UL Action) – I am a panfish fanatic and absolutely love searching these guys out on the ice. I love chasing Pumpkinseed, Bluegill and Crappie in shallow water amongst weed beds of small lakes/reservoir in water less than 10 ft. This rod is the one for the job! This length of rod is great for working in a portable shelter. I love to sight fish panfish in shallow water and this rod allows for this.

ETI26ML (26” ML Action) – When probing depths greater than 10ft I like to beef up the rod a little bit. This rod has a little more backbone so I can set the hook in deeper water. This is my preferred setup for species like Yellow Perch and Crappie (White or Black). These two species tend to be a little larger than their other panfish cousins so this setup gives me a little more control over the larger specimens. A slightly longer rod gives me some more leverage from deeper water on bigger fish.

 

Reel Selection
For both my ultra light and light panfish applications I like to use a Cardinal S-series Reel. Model CARD S10.

 

Line Selection:

Shallow Water
I prefer to use 2lb or 3lb Trilene Micro Ice. This line performs well in winter conditions. I seldom use a FC leader but if I require one I will use Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. I find the limpness of Mono an advantage in shallow water applications.

Deep Water:
I prefer to use 6lb (2lb diameter) FireLine Micro Ice with a Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Ice leader (3lb test). This setup allows me to use micro sized baits in deep water and I still get the sensitivity I need to detect the lightest bites.

For Part 2 of Hard Life Panfishing I will review my terminal tackle and bait selection for these setups….stay tuned.