Ice fishing with tip ups

Ice fishing with tip ups is a great way to ice fish.  It doesn't matter if you are the laziest ice fisherman in the world or the most ambitious.  Fishing with tip ups produces fish.  If you have not experienced fishing with tip ups, you should definitely give them a try this year. 

You might be asking yourself why would two fisherman at opposite sides of the spectrum take to tip ups?  The answer is simple.  The lazy fisherman loves fishing them because he can shoot the breeze with an ice cold beverage while the ambitious fisherman can replace the beverage with a jigging rod and diversify his offering.  Both are styles I have tried!

When purchasing a tip up, there are a couple different varieties out there.  Most styles do the same thing but I personally prefer the Bass Pro plastic tip up.  The reason I prefer this tip up is because it is the easiest version to set up but they all catch fish.

Ready for action!

So How do you use tip ups?  Like always, it is best to read your owner's manual but basically they work by attaching a hook to a line which is attached to a flag.  When a fish grabs the hook, the flag pops up signaling a fish is on.  The difference in the models is mainly how the flag is set to be tripped.

To fish with tip ups, most fisherman will hook a sucker minnow or similar sized minnow as their offering.  Once the bait is hooked, put a sinker a couple feet up from the hook and lower everything down to the bottom of the water you are fishing.  To help find the bottom, you should use a depth finder as described in a previous post.

A sneaky tip is to use a perch or bluegill that you caught with your jigging rod as bait.  This tip will not only save you money but usually results in more fish because you are "matching the hatch".  However, before trying this, make sure to check your rulebook.  In Michigan you can use fish that you caught for bait but they have to be legal size and count to your daily limit.  In other states, you cannot do this.

Now that you know how to rig your tip up, it is time to put them out.  When putting out tip ups, it is best to spread them out to cover different water depths (If you can have more than one line out that is.  Check your rulebook).

An example of this would be to put one right outside a weed line then another at the next drop ten to twenty feet away.  If you have a couple buddies, have them do the same thing and you will cover the whole lake in no time!

Another tip to putting tip ups out is to change the depth of your offerings.  Put one hook half way up the water column, one on the bottom...etc.  Once a flag goes off, move the tip ups to that depth to key in on the fish.  

The last thing to do is to talk about the fateful moment a flag goes off.  The most important thing to do when a flag goes off is to get over to it in a hurry (Many fish have been lost by a slow reaction!).  Once you get to the tip up, watch what the line is doing.  If the line is still going out, it is a good idea to let it go until it slows down.

Once the fish stops running with the line, reel the line out of the water hand over hand until you feel weight.  Once you feel the weight of the fish, give a good tug to set the hook and you should be golden.  Continue to pull up the line with your hands until you can get the fish out of the water or a gaffe in its mouth.  Dinner time!

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