“They’re right where we left them,” I blurted while quickly dropping another small sucker to whoever was stealing them below. It was a private thought that worked its way out on last season’s first-ice-foray. I was pretty certain they were walleyes, as I’d fished them in the months leading up to ice. They remained right off of a point on the first shoreline break where we’d had two flags fly before drilling the rest of the holes. We jigged up a few perch and walleyes amongst those tip-ups right at dark, before gingerly creeping back to shore. We were on solid ice, a good 6 inches of it, but you never can be too careful. Even when well-prepared, I’m not the guy creeping on a few mere inches like I once was. Age, kids, and some dodgy experiences will do that to you.
The hardwater season is fast approaching. All across the Northern United States and Canada, anglers are taking their first steps on frozen water. Now is the time to ensure electronics, rods & reels, and augers are in working order — and that tackle is fully organized. Aside from the obvious fishing gear, there is some vital equipment you should have before you take that first step on hardwater. Safety concerns are very real throughout the ice fishing season, and especially at first ice. Safety precautions for first ice can be categorized into a handful of major groups.