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ice fishing family in tent

Let’s Go! Best Ice Fishing Locations For Your Family

Nothing builds family relationships quite like drilling holes and catching fish together on the freezing ice!

Wait, what?

Yes! Ice fishing is a fun, relaxed activity to do alone, but it’s really great when the whole family can take part. 

It can be nearly impossible to find good ice fishing spots in some parts of the country, considering the sub-tropical climate. But, if you’re willing to take a bit of a fishing road trip with the family, here are some of the best ice fishing locations for your family that are worth the trip. 

Pactola Reservoir, Deadwood, South Dakota 

Fishing at Pactola Reservoir is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and not just because you may catch a trophy fish!  

Beneath the water, at a depth of 150 feet, lie the remains of an old mining town. This old town has now become home to a variety of fish species, including Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch and Trout. 

mother and son hold yellow perch while ice fishing
Don’t let the cold keep you from experiencing the thrill of ice fishing. There are several great ice fishing locations in the U.S. you can travel to for ice fishing adventure!

When ice fishing here, challenge your family members to see who can catch the largest fish for the day. If you’re lucky, you may catch the Lake Trout that sets a new state record! 

Lake Erie, Ohio 

Ice fishing on one of the Great Lakes should be on every angler’s bucket list. Lake Erie is a great place to take the family ice fishing. 

You can hire a licensed ice guide, who’ll take you to the best ice fishing spots, where your chance of catching Large Walleye and Perch are good. They’ll also be able to advise you on the fishing regulations in the area, which are very strict. 

The guide will also know the migration patterns of the fish, and will have all the necessary equipment to make your family’s ice fishing trip enjoyable and memorable. 

Silver Lake, California 

Tucked away in the Golden State, sitting snug at the foot of Carson Peak, is an angler’s paradise. Silver Lake provides fishing year-round, but ice fishing here is a unique experience. 

Every member of your family will be able to ice fish for Lake Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout or Cutthroat Trout. With such a large variety of trout, it could be a close contest to see who catches the biggest fish of the day. 

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland 

Deep Creek Lake has a winter activity for every member of the family, from cross-country skiing and sledding to ice skating. One of the more popular activities is ice fishing, as the lake contains a variety of fish. 

northern pike caught ice fishing
Northern Pike are just one of the many species of fish you can catch while ice fishing on Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.

The family will be able to pick and choose which fish they want to catch, as there are plenty of Walleye, Northern Pike, Trout, Bass, Yellow Perch, Bluegill, Sunfish, Pickerel and Crappie.

Here you can challenge your family to see who catches the most fish on the day. 

If you’re looking for a slight advantage over the rest of your loved ones, then fish where the water is the warmest and keep your fishing line close to the bottom of the lake. This is where you’ll find the fish! 

Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin 

For an experience that every member of your family will remember, head to Lake Winnebago. While you can fish for Perch, Crappie, Northern Pike, Walleye, Bass, Bluegill and Muskies, it’s the huge Sturgeon that are the main attraction. 

You can expect to catch Sturgeon up to 80 inches long, and weighing up to 140 pounds! Finding the Sturgeon may be the easiest part of the day, but getting them to bite is a whole different story. 

If you want a great story to tell, then make sure that you use a braided line with a weight capacity of up to 100 pounds. Sturgeon put up a fight that can last for an hour, and the last thing you want is for your line to break

kids ice fishing with dad holding fish
Ice fishing trips with family can make for some unforgettable moments!

Chambers Lake, Colorado 

If your kids are old enough to handle some winter hiking, then fishing at Chambers Lake will be a great outdoor family experience. Start your hike at Inlet Bay, as this will lead you to one of the best trout fishing spots on the lake. 

Anglers can catch large Lake and Rainbow Trout between 14 and 20 inches in length. You may even find a Kokanee Salmon on the end of your line, especially if you’re fishing with jigs. 

There are also tent camping sites on Lake Chambers.

One of the best things about planning an ice fishing trip to Chambers Lake is that it will often stay frozen until late March. 

Devil’s Lake, North Dakota

Have you or your loved ones ever caught more than one trophy fish in a day? If not, then add Devil’s Lake to your ice fishing bucket list. 

You’ll find that Devil’s Lake is home to a variety of fish, including Black Crappie, Northern Pike, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill and Brown Trout. 

Every member of your family will stand a good chance of catching a trophy Northern Pike, Walleye or a Perch, all on the same day! The lake is frozen from December until March, and depending on your travel plans, you can choose to get either a 3-day or 10-day fishing license

black crappie and bluegill ice fishing
Black crappie and bluegill can both be caught on Devil’s Lake, during the ice-over from December to March.

Just make sure that each member of your family has their fishing license on them at all times, in case they need to show it to the authorities. 

Conclusion 

If you’ve fished as a family before, you’ll know how the activity can make for a great day out, and some close family bonding

If  you love the bonding experience of fishing together, ice fishing as a family should be on your joint bucket list. 

Even if there aren’t any ice fishing spots near your location, you can make a trip of it. Why not take a weekend, go on a trip to a new place, and see which family member can catch the most fish, while sipping hot chocolate on the ice? 

Hopefully, you have learned about some of the best ice fishing locations.

If you want to get away from the cold entirely, you can always take a family trip to a warm weather destination, but we recommend giving ice fishing a try at least once. You may just fall in love with it! And if you go, we hope you put a hook N1!

Kenneth Reaves, of the Perfect Captain.
man hold fly fishing rod with water in the background

Traveling with fly fishing gear | Get it there safely

When planning a fly fishing trip, our excitement is so strong around the destination and the experience that we might have, that we often overlook the most important details; getting our gear there in one piece.

Nothing puts a damper on a highly anticipated fishing trip like losing
your gear to a situation that could have been prevented.

Whether you are traveling by plane or car, your fly fishing gear should receive first class care.

Knowing how and what to pack for a plane trip, and how to store a fly rod in a vehicle that might not be sporting a roof rack, will make your trip smooth sailing and a lot of fun.

Taking Your Fly Fishing Gear On a Plane

wing of an airplane
Before you fly, be sure to check with your specific airline to find out what their regulations are pertaining to fly fishing equipment and supplies.

It seems like every airport, airline, and T.S.A. agent’s standards, directions, and verdicts vary greatly. This unfortunate reality can make traveling all the more anxiety ridden.

It also doesn’t help that fly fishing gear can have some questionable components that may raise some red flags such as fishing hooks, pliers, knives, etc.

Fortunately, fly rods and their reels are deemed acceptable as checked luggage by most airline carriers, regardless of the carrier’s size.

To be absolutely sure that you will not have an unexpected hassle during your airport and plane experience, it’s always a good fail-safe to
check with your specific airline carrier.

A great way to think of it is that T.S.A cares about what is inside your bag or on your person, whereas the carrier cares about how much your bag weighs and how much space it takes up.

Check out this T.S.A resource that helps you determine what you are permitted to carry and what you are not.

Containers for flying with fly fishing gear

orvis fly rod tube
A fly rod tube will allow you to take your own gear on your next fly fishing trip and also save you lots of space.

Once you have determined what you can and cannot bring, you’ll need to think about what type of container you will use for transporting your fly rod.

Four-piece rods and rod tubes are always the most ideal given that they are built for this purpose.

That said, the most important thing is that the chosen container is a hard case, extremely durable, and shock absorbent.

Hitting a batch of heavy turbulence is an anxious situation all on its own. Don’t give yourself even more stress by worrying about what damage that said turbulence may inflict on your fly rod.

Flying with a 4 piece rod and rod tube will save you a ton of space and headache. Although all things have their pros and cons, it’s better to fish with your own gear than with rental gear used by all sorts of anglers because you had to leave yours at home.

Where to put “questionable” fly fishing items

So, what questionable fly fishing gear items might raise T.S.A eyebrows? It’s a good idea to leave all tools (such as snippers, pliers, and hooks) in your
checked luggage.

It will also serve well to remove your fishing line from the reel and transport them in their respective packaging to prevent any security issues.

Other than that, so long as you don’t pack anything you can’t fit in your carry-on or checked baggage with ease, you’ll be
down and off the runway with no problem.

Traveling With Your Fly Fishing Gear via Car

truck parked by river and people fly fishing
Roof racks are a great way to protect your fly fishing rods when traveling by vehicle.

There are some really impressive fly rod roof racks on the market that are hands down the best way to travel via car with your fly rod.

Roof racks like Riversmith are exceptionally durable, can accommodate multiple and varying fly weights, and have protective liners that ensure your fly rod has a smooth and highly protected ride.

But, sometimes you might travel in a rental vehicle, with a buddy who doesn’t have a roof rack, or simply in a vehicle that is not your own. This can require fishermen to get creative with how they’ll go about getting their fly rod to its destination in one piece.

Here’s how you should protect your fly rod when traveling by vehicle:

  1. Disassemble your fly rod down to the number of pieces it was manufactured to break down to.
  2. Then, gently tape or strap the rod’s components together in several places.
  3. Once these parts are secure, place them in the vehicle pointed in a direction safe from windows, doors, and other passengers or obstructions.
  4. With the handles or butts of the fly rod down and a sock placed over the tip facing up, the rod should then also be strapped to the vehicle to prevent it from rolling around.

This security works both ways; it will ensure the vehicle doesn’t inflict damage to your fly rod, and that your fly rod won’t inflict damage to your vehicle.

Get Your Gear to Its Destination in One Piece

There is no such thing as caring too much about your fly rod and fishing equipment and doing everything in your power to get all of your gear to your fishing destination safely. So, take the extra minute to call your airline carrier and get information relevant to your rod and gear.

Invest some money into a fly rod roof rack for your personal vehicle so you can get from fishing spot to fishing spot with gentle ease. But, most importantly, don’t make impulsive and uneducated decisions on the fly so that you find yourself or your gear in a bad situation.

Do all your homework up front and your gear will thank you!

Kyle Rutten of Riversmith
Kyle Rutten of Riversmith.com
best fishing rod setup header image

The Best All-Around Fishing Rod setup | The Inside Information

When I used to work at a sporting goods store I used to get asked this question a lot:

“What is the overall best type of fishing rod that I can use for any type of fishing?”

When I was working at this store, the people that were coming in looking to buy something weren’t die-hard fishermen. They weren’t guys looking for a million different setups. And, they weren’t looking for reasons why they should buy an expensive setup.

All they really wanted was a rod to get out there and fish from time to time, and they wanted it to be logical and of decent quality.

So, I want to walk you through a specific rod setup that should allow you to fish for whatever you want. This is going to be a rod and reel combination based on size and power. That way, you’ll be able to get out there, and just fish a pond or whatever it may be with the same setup.

Best Fishing Rod setup | Rod and Reel Specifics

The rod that you will want to use in this setup is a 6’6” to a 7-foot, medium-action rod. You can certainly go medium-heavy if you want, but medium is usually a good all-around size rod to be able to handle the majority of fish you would catch.

best fishing rod length
A medium action 6’6″ – 7′ rod is the ideal size for the best all around fishing setup.
best fishing reel
A 2500 to 3000 size reel like this one is perfect for an all-around fishing rod setup.

Along with a rod of this size, I would recommend a 2500 to a 3000 size reel.

If you aren’t sure what those numbers mean, simply look on the reel. It will often say 2500 or 3000, or it may just have like a code name with some letters and after it, it’s going to say “30” or “25”, that way you’ll know what size it is.

fishing reel size numbers
The fishing reels will typically have the series numbers indicated on the reel, as in this picture. Go for a 2500 or 3000 series reel, which may also be indicated by a “25” or “30.”

These reels are going to allow you to hold an 8 to 10-pound test line, or even 15. And, if you guys are going to use braided line, they can hold up to 25-pound, 30-pound braid. So, it’s going to be a good size spool to have enough line to use the lures you need and catch the fish you want to catch.

Why Not Baitcasters?

So, why did I not recommend a baitcaster? Well, baitcasters can be complex, and it takes some skill and practice to use one.

However, a spinning reel will allow you to fish the majority of baits without much trouble. Most people are able to quickly learn to cast one of these and it’s just a good size rod to have all the time.

In addition, this size rod comes in one-piece as well as two-piece variations.

This type of setup is what I grew up learning to fish with initially; just a medium spinning rod that allowed me to fish for just about everything.

best all around spinning rod
This is a good travel rod that I use all the time when I just need to do all-purpose fishing. It’s a 2-piece, 6’6” rod. It’s a medium action and this is a size 30, or a 3000 series reel. It’s just a good all-around rod for me. I have it stringed up with 10-pound mono. I use this rod alongside the boat. I drop shot with it. I walleye fish with it. I go pond hopping for bass with it. If I’m really getting bored and the fish aren’t biting, I can even use it for catfish.

Now, some may say, “Oh, you can’t catch giant catfish or carp on those size rods because they’re going to break it.”

My answer to that is, you absolutely CAN.

Use some braided line, make sure you set your drag correctly and have a strong knot tied, and as long as you know how to angle that fish correctly, I can guarantee you you’ll get it to the shore or into the boat.

set drag appropriately on fishing reel
Setting the drag appropriately, according to the fish you’re after and the type of line you are using is key to landing a wide variety of fish.

So there you have it. That’s really all you need to know about what the best all-around fishing rod setup is.

Conclusion

I hope I gave you enough information on the best all-around fishing rod setup. This rod size and reel size combo is fairly inexpensive and it’s going to be a fishing rod you can keep in your car or in your house… perfect for the everyday angler.

So, whether you’re fishing on the weekends, or riding your bike around pond to pond; bass fishing, crappie fishing, or even looking to hook into a big catfish, it’s going to be an affordable and good-size setup to do everything you need to when it comes to fishing (well, maybe not shark fishing!)

I hope you put a hook N1!

jordan costanzo
Jordan Costanzo of TightlineTV

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