Ice Fishing Simplified

Keeping things ultra simple will lead to more time fishing, which translates to more fish!

I’d been in Noblesville, Indiana just long enough to settle my family into our hotel and change into warm layers when Doug Sikora arrived. I threw my ice suit, rods and Humminbird in the back of his truck, and off we went.

We made a quick bait shop stop, only so I could get a fishing license, and drove 10 minutes to a marina. Upon arrival, we slapped on outerwear, grabbed our junk, walked down to the lake and trekked another 10 minutes across the ice to the cove where Sikora wanted to fish.

I got town at 3:00.We were fishing by 4:00. Just early enough to fish the final couple of hours before dark.

Sikora believes much of the reason many anglers don’t really like ice-fishing is that they make it out to be too complicated. His gear for a typical afternoon outing, beyond what he wears and the ice picks he keeps handy for safety, includes a bucket, a rod or two, a flasher and single small tackle bag packed with Bobby Garland jigs and bodies, plus a hand auger slung over his shoulder. No bait bucket or puck. No shelter. No heaters. Not even a sled most days.

Sikora’s panfish baits are the same Garland Scented Wiggl’Rs and Swim’Rs and Itty Bit Swim’Rs that do the job in open water, and he never feels need to tip them with bait. Sikora ice fishes as long as ice allows every winter, but doesn’t own much true ice-fishing gear.

Sikora’s wonderfully simple approach is highly effective, and the minimalist aspect allows him to walk farther than most people will in order to reach areas that are distant from public access areas and therefore lightly fished. I saw the fruits of that while we were together, but that’s probably another story for another time.

See how Sikora uses a Bobby Garland Itty Bit Swim’R when conditions get tough.

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