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Winter Tips for Ice Fishing with a Live Transducer from KoHeltajat

Increasingly popular on boats, live transducers have now been introduced to winter fishing as well. The advantage of a live transducer is that you can see what happens under the ice directly on your sonar screen, including the distance to the fish and their sizes. The Friends Of Happy Angler team KoHeltajat has been practicing this fishing style for the past two winters using a Lowrance Active Target transducer, and their equipment is in constant development.

We took version 2.0 of the equipment on the early winter ice with Konsta and Heikki from Friends Of Happy Angler, and here you can read our observations and tips from the precision fishing trip.

We took two sleds with us on the ice. One carried the live-scanning sonar and our packed lunch, the other the fishing equipment used by KoHeltajat and an ice auger. The compact precision fishing setup consisting of a Rebelcell battery attached to the board with a strap, transducer box, and a sonar mount fixed with screws was assembled on a piece of waterproof plywood.

The biggest issue in ice fishing is the consumption of electricity and sufficiency of supply on long spring days spent fishing. KoHeltajat has solved this problem by investing in a lightweight battery with high capacity

“You should consult the manual of your equipment to determine the power consumption. The manual will typically specify the maximum consumption. You can also reduce consumption by lowering the brightness of the screen. Lithium batteries are lightweight and easily able to offer enough power for the entire day when you choose the right size. Lithium batteries also allow you to use their whole capacity safely without worrying about damage to the battery due to excess discharge", says Konsta Verho.

“You should assemble your electronics into a compact package that is easy to transport and take with you. You can also use the same setup on a boat in the summer. We have used WAGO connectors that allow for easy connection and disconnection in both the summer and winter.

By investing in high-quality cables and connectors you will avoid having to deal with loose or disconnected cables when you should be fishing,” says Heikki Vesanto,  an electrician by trade.

Rotation of the transducer is just as important when you are trying to find fish in the winter. You should try to find a solution that allows the mount to rotate without winding the cable around the shaft and is easy to handle in winter conditions. KoHeltajat have chosen the latest transducer mount from Patriot.

The batteries that power your cordless drill and electronic devices should be protected against water. Enclosing the cordless drill battery in a bit of waterproofing can save your fishing trip.

“We drill our holes using an 8" Heinola ice auger, to which we have attached an 18V Milwaukee Fuel cordless drill. When going on a fishing trip, you should bring some spare batteries. We carry five batteries that will last us through even longer days", says Konsta.

A larger screen allows you to see more, but it will also increase power consumption!

We used the following equipment for precision fishing

Tips for Precision Fishing – Chart Accurately and Remember Responsibility

We used a Lowrance HDS Live 12" and an Active Target transducer that were set to a range of 30 meters. We continued along the ice drilling holes every 60 meters, focusing on a depth range of 7–10 meters. This distribution allowed us to chart new territory each time without overlapping scans.

The depth will of course depend on the target lake and the clarity of the water. In a clear lake, the fish can be attracted by the lure from further away. You should however keep to a minimum depth of approximately 5 meters. In muddier, shallow water where the depth may be only two meters, it is even possible to drill a hole directly on top of the fish.

Our fishing trip in early December showed that precision fishing on ice is not exactly the most effortless fishing style. During our short tour on the ice during daylight hours, we traveled almost seven kilometers and drilled approximately 70 holes in the ice with a drill-powered ice auger. We found some pike in a depth of 8–10 meters and were able to offer large vertical jigs about 10 times, while larger fish in middle water swam away as soon as we got closer.

NOTE! In the freezing cold, it is important to ensure that you handle the fish correctly. Speed is of the essence, and if you are not going to keep your catch, you should avoid putting the fish down onto the snow and make sure that slush does not get in its mouth as you release it. You should clear the hole of slush before releasing your catch. A wet release mat can be used for measuring the fish. A sled filled in advance with water can also be used to allow the fish to rest if you have to keep hold of them for any longer.

A responsible angler will also remind themselves of the impact that the fishing depth has on the fish, particularly with zander.

For releasing, you should also bring a pair of needle-nose and cutting pliers, jaw spreader, release mat or weighing bag, measure, and scale.

It is very important to ensure that the skin mucus of the fish does not come in contact with snow or ice and that its eyes do not freeze!

Use thicker lines and a good, durable leader when precision fishing for larger predators. A regular ismete rod will work well for larger predators. You can use vertical jigs in various sizes, and as the same technique can also be used for other species, such as perch, European whitefish, or rainbow trout, you should choose your equipment based on the target fish.

Rewarding experiences with precision fishing!

Text: KoHeltajat & Juha Salonen
Photographs: Skutsi_atte,  KoHeltajat, and Juha Salonen

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