Like so many other Hoosiers, I was introduced to the joys of fishing at a young age. But it wasn’t until much later that I went ice fishing. I found it just as fun but significantly different from the warm-weather version. As many of you know, success on the frozen stuff takes much more than time and bait, but it’s worth the extra effort.
Our usual winter spot was Starve Hollow State Recreation Area, in the southeastern part of our great state. Whether we caught any keepers or not, ice time was time well spent, getting away from the daily grind, enjoying the fresh air, and shooting the breeze.
Although fun was the goal, safety came first, and it needs to for you, too—whether it’s your first or umpteenth time out. Follow these tips from our conservation officers: Leave a note of where you’re going with someone dependable. Pack a life jacket or flotation coat, ice picks, and rope gear. Upon arrival, put that flotation device on and take the ice picks and rope gear to where you want to fish. With another person present, test the ice with an ice auger—at least 4 inches thick is recommended. For more on how to safely enjoy this great sport, see on.IN.gov/ice-fishing.
Remember, you don’t have to wait for warm weather to fish. If you haven’t gone ice fishing, make this the year, and if it’s been a while since you’ve been out, it’s time to get back on the ice—safely—and remember to keep the magic going come spring, summer, and fall.
Director, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
I love to fish, whether it’s stream fishing, casting from the shore, or sitting in a shanty on the ice. For me, it always comes back to spending time with family and friends and, hopefully, hooking a wonderful meal.
My two boys and I have winter birthdays. They know the best birthday present they can give me is a day with them on the ice. Since they were itty bitty, my husband and I would take them to our local hole, set up the shanty, and enjoy a day of ice fishing. As the boys grew, so did our shanty and snack pile, the friendly competition, and our memories of our time together in the outdoors.
Many anglers overlook ice fishing. Our latest angler survey shows less than 20 percent of respondents went ice fishing last year. This means there’s plenty of room for more anglers to extend their season and learn a new skill. I’ve introduced a lot of young people to fishing via ice fishing. It’s simple, low-cost, and safe if you go prepared. Gear-wise, you just need an auger to drill the hole, a bucket to sit on, and an ice fishing pole. Ice fishing itself is even easier, no casting required! It’s my favorite way to spend wintertime outdoors with family—talking football, high school wrestling, and who has the most fish in their pile!
I encourage you to give it a try. While you’re at it, check out our new angler survey dashboard at on.IN.gov/angler-survey.
As always, thank you for your contributions to fish and wildlife conservation in Indiana!
Director, DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife
Magnet Fishing on DNR Properties
What is magnet fishing, you ask?
It involves attaching a strong magnet to a length of sturdy rope, then throwing the magnet into a body of water with the hopes of ‘catching’ a lost object. Once the magnet hits the lake or riverbed, you simply pull in the rope, dragging the magnet along the bottom of the body of water, and reeling in any finds. Items typically recovered can include wheel rims, bicycles, and keys; but flashier items are also sometimes recovered.
In the last two years, the popularity of magnet fishing has skyrocketed, leading to rising safety concerns. These concerns include decreased water quality due to excessive stirring of sediment by large magnets that require a mechanical reel. Other concerns include the presence of unsightly debris and the staining of sidewalks by items left behind.
DNR encourages people to pursue a variety of outdoor recreation activities and works hard to accommodate those activities in a manner that is safe and compatible with others. To magnet fish on bodies of water on state property, DNR requires individuals to obtain a free permit from the property they want to use.
DNR encourages magnet fishers to be responsible in their efforts by carrying out and correctly disposing of found items, rinsing the magnet-fished shoreline area when finished, being respectful of other visitors using public land, and reporting any finds of firearms or other dangerous items that could cause a potential criminal investigation involving the property.