Step Outside - Alaska WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Alaska 144 144 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:52:47 -0500 9 Best Ski Destinations for Families in Alaska When you think about skiing in Alaska, you may envision folks dropping skis-first from a helicopter and then bombing through backcountry powder as they hurtle pass moose and grizzly bears. Fortunately for families who enjoy skiing, there are some friendlier destinations. These are our favorites.

Alyeska Resort, in the Chugach Mountains near Girdwood, is the biggest ski resort in Alaska. More than 1,600 skiable acres, 72 trails, and 2,500 vertical feet are powdered with over than 600 inches of annual snow. Multiple lodging and dining options, as well as family packages help to complete the experience. 

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An average annual snowfall of 350 inches and 800 feet of vertical spread over more than 30 trails makes Mr. Eyak Ski Area the perfect place for families to spend a powder day on the slopes. Sweeping views across Orca Inlet, and as many easy run options as there are black diamonds will keep everyone smiling all day long.

Eaglecrest Ski Area is where folks in the capital city hit the slopes. This family-friendly resort has more than 600 skiable acres and 1,400 feet of vertical services by four chairlifts. Eaglecrest has runs for all levels of skiers and board riders and offers many family activities throughout the season.

@akpiercie charging, winter is back up high, a pleasant surprise today!

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With 1,300 feet of vertical, the majority of the runs at Moose Mountain Ski Resort are geared toward intermediate and advanced skiers and riders. But, they recently installed a lift near the gentler slopes at the base lodge so beginners can enjoy Moose Mountain, as well. In an interesting throwback touch, their primary lift service consists of buses with ski racks which shuttle you back up to the top of the mountain after you ski down.

Hilltop Ski Area is a small, family-friendly ski area inside Far North Bicentennial Park. It’s 30 acres of acres of runs cover almost 300 vertical feet. Most of the runs are fairly easy, but there are a few for more experienced skiers and riders. 

Folks in the interior have been hitting the slopes below Cleary Summit at Ski Land for more than half a century. What Ski Land claims to be the northernmost chairlift in North America serves more than 1,000 feet of vertical. Skiers and boarders also enjoyed unspoiled vistas of the aurora borealis when it’s popping.

Arctic Valley Ski Area, in Chugach State Park, has more than 500 skiable acres but is only 10 miles from downtown Anchorage. A safe, uncrowded area, Arctic Valley offers experienced and intermediate skiers a backcountry-like experience but with the conveniences of a ski area. Kids who choose not to ski are welcome to sled, build snow forts, or enjoy the tube park.

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Families stationed at Fort Wainwright, as well as members of the public, can enjoy the base’s Birch Hill Ski & Snowboard Area. The family-friendly slope is great for beginners. Affordable rentals, a tubing area, and terrain park are also available.

Some major gnar shreddage🤙🏼🤙🏼

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Military families stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), can also take advantage of their own slopes. The Hillberg Ski Area offers a main hill, two beginner hills, a terrain park, and a tubing hill. Ski and snowboard lessons, as well as rentals are also available at Hillberg.

Attempted snowboarding today #seasonedexpert #sponsored #shredlife

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8 Best Apres Ski Activities in Alaska Although Alaska is not as well-known a ski destination as other western states or neighboring British Columbia, plenty of downhill action can be found in the state. And where there’s downhill, there’s apres. From cozy bars to fascinating museums, here are our favorite places for apres ski activities in Alaska. 

After a day of shredding at Alyeska Resort, settle in at the Sitzmark Bar & Grill for your apres action. The Sitzmark offers a full menu of awesome food, as well as plenty of warming libations. During ski season, there’s always a full schedule of live music, parties and other entertainment to make sure you have as much fun off the slopes as you did on them.

If you’ve been skiing or boarding Alyeska all day but are looking for a more laid-back aprés scene than the resort offers, head over to the Silvertip Grill in the village of Girdwood. Food, drink, live music, karaoke and other events combine to create a casual, convivial aprés experience.

Another popular off-the-resort aprés option for Alyeska skiers and boarders is Chair 5 in Girdwood. Along with an awesome array of menu items and an amply stocked bar, Chair 5 hosts regular events such as live music and even karaoke nights for the more-musically inspired.

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Change your scenery from white powdery snow to rich beautiful colors at the Alaska State Museum near Eaglecrest. With thousands of historical artifacts from both the Russian colonial era, and American history from 1867 to present, your interest is sure to be peaked. Paint a mental picture of what Alaska must have been like under the Russian flag by wandering through paintings, photographs, and the other amazing artifacts that the museum has to offer.

Not far from Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau, you’ll find Louie’s Douglas Inn. Right on the island and not far from the Juneau-Douglas Bridge is this hot spot, favorite with the locals. A menu of delectable food, great drinks and gorgeous views will make your aprés experience enjoyable.

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Known to locals and visitors alike as one of the best hot spots to check out in Anchorage, Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizza is always sure to provide an excellent time to you and your ski crew. With live music, a refined beer collection, and best of all: endless options of pizza, you won’t want to leave. You’ll find Broken Tooth beer here, fresh salads, drool-worthy desserts, and a sizable list of delectable pizzas. You won’t want to miss out on the fun, so be sure to head there after a day at Arctic Valley.

After skiing at either Arctic Valley or Alyeska Resort, book a snowmobile tour with Glacier City Snowmobile Tours in Girdwood. With two different tours you can take, you’ll be able to extend that winter sports excitement even after you take off your skis. The Real Deal Tour takes you riding through ice caves, over glaciers, and atop icebergs while the Scenic Mountain Tour takes you through private land with 7,000-foot glaciated peaks surrounding you.

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After a day on the slopes at Arctic Valley, your best bet for aprés action is the Last Frontier Bar, just south of Glenn Highway on the way back into Anchorage. Great food, a full bar and all sorts of drink specials—along with one of the busiest live music calendars in the state—make the Last Frontier the perfect place to warm up after a day of shredding.

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9 Best Ski and Snowboard Stores in Alaska In a place as wintery and snow-covered as Alaska, it should come as no surprise that skiing is tops. So, whether you’re hitting the trails Nordic style, bombing the backcountry, or boarding a big resort, you’re going to need the right gear and equipment. These are our favorite ski and snowboard shops in Alaska.

Powder Hound Ski Shop has a prime ski-in, ski-out location at the base of Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. A full-service ski and snowboard shop, Powder Hound has hall the gear and apparel—and will help make sure it fits—you’ll need to hit the slopes in Alaska. 

SkiAK sells more than 50 brands of skis, as well as boots and bindings, for any sort of skiing you want to do, whether it’s a resort, in the backcountry, or heli skiing. They also do ski and board tuning and repair, and offer custom boot fitting so that you keep your feet tight to the slopes, no matter where you’re skiing.

Backcountry Bike & Ski has been the premier outfitter for folks in the Matanuska Valley for years. In addition to equipment sales and rentals, Backcountry Bike will also adjust bindings, as well as tune, wax, and repair your skis—Nordic or alpine—or snowboard.

When folks in the Interior need to rent Nordic ski equipment or need their own gear waxed, tuned, or repaired, they bring them to Trax Outdoor Center in Fairbanks. Conveniently located near the Birch Hill trail system, Trax will make sure you spend more time on the trail than on the bench.

If you’re a board rider in the Anchorage area, you know that Blue & Gold Board shop is the place to go for boards and boots. They’ve got a huge selection of snowboards—men’s, women’s, and youth—as well as splitboards, boots, bindings and accessories: Everything you need to shred.

If you lean more toward the backcountry, Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking likely has the gear you’re looking for. They’ve got alpine touring equipment, as well as Nordic skis. And, of course, they carry the boots, bindings, and poles you’ll need to get out on the snow—and the avalanche gear to keep you safe.

Getting prepped for new #snow. #Anchorage #Alaska #skiing #xcski #winter

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Skiers on the Kenai Peninsula rely on the Ski Loft at Beemuns Variety for everything they need. Even their Ski Loft evinces variety: Nordic skies and skates, race classic, and backcountry skis, as well as snowboards. Not to mention service for all of them. Beemuns is truly the place for everything on Kenai.

When it opened in 1974, Foggy Mountain Shop was the first full-service Nordic ski shop—as well as backpacking and mountaineering—in Southeast Alaska. These days, they also sell, service, and repair alpine, Telemark, and touring skis and equipment. 

Skiing and snowboarding gear can get pricey, so why buy new gear when you can get steeply discounted, gently used equipment? At The Hoarding Marmot, you can do just that. They even sell discounted passes to Alyeska. The inventory does change pretty regularly, so be sure to check in often.

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Best Winter Weekend Getaway in Chugach State Park Alaska gets a little more winter than most other states, so rather than hibernating for six months out of the year, it’s best if you get out and enjoy it! Chugach State Park, which is not far from Anchorage or the Kenai Peninsula contains almost half a million acres of some of the state’s most beautiful mountains and forests. The park and its surrounds also make for an awesome winter weekend getaway in Alaska.

The Eklutna Lake Campground, in the northern part of Chugach State Park, near Wasilla and Palmer, is open to campers all year long. There are also several rentals cabins available around Eklutna Lake for those who aren’t thrilled with the idea of pitching a tent in the snow.

Nothing sticks to your ribs and warms your belly quite like barbecue. When you’re in the Eklutna Lake area of Chugach State Park, you’re just a few minutes away from some lip-smacking-good Southern barbecue. Head north up the Glenn Highway and you’ll find Bear’s Belly BBQ just on the other side of the Knik Arm. Not feeling barbecue? Get the gumbo!

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There are half a dozen fabulous places to take your sled in Chugach State Park. Eklutna Lakeside Trail is one of the prettiest. The trail tracks the east side of Eklutna Lake, with moderate elevations gains, fantastic mountain vistas and tree-lined panoramas. The trail is 12.7 miles in one direction (it’s not a loop), so plan your ride accordingly.

The southern end of Chugach State Park embraces Alyeska Resort—the state’s biggest set of downhill slopes. Everything about Alyeska is superlative: 76 named trails—and plenty of backcountry—over 1,600 skiable acres with around 670 inches of annual powder. “Alyeska Resort hosts seven total lifts which take you to a vertical rise of 2,500 feet,” so be prepared when you’re skiing of such high elevation! To top it off, there’s on on-property spa to take care of those legs at the end of the day.

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If you’re fishing Alaska’s freshwater lakes, and often rivers, in the winter, you’ll probably need to do so under the thick layer of ice. Pike, char, grayling and landlocked salmon are common hard water catches. Rabbit Lake, on the park’s western border near Anchorage, is a particularly good spot to try your luck through the ice because it’s been stocked with rainbow trout. Bring proper permits and be aware of Alaska’s fishing laws and regulations. If you need ice fishing gear, you can rent it from an outfitter like the accommodating Alaska Outdoor Gear Rental in Anchorage. 

The interior of Chugach State Park—outside the Eagle River, Anchorage and Eklutna management areas—is open to hunting. The Chugach State Park Management Area is subject to some hunting restrictions, though. Check with Department of Fish and Game for the most up-to-date restrictions on species, seasons or bag limits. Appropriate tags and licenses are required.

On the outskirts of Anchorage, at Chugach State Park’s western edge, you’ll find the Hillside Trail system. Strap on your cross-country skis and start out from the Glen Alps Trailhead. Angle southeast along the Flattop Mountain trail, skirt one side of Blueberry Knoll, turn around at Flattop and head back, skiing along the opposite side of Blueberry Knoll, finishing at the trailhead. The whole loop, with some decent ups and downs along the way, is just under four miles. 

Located within Chugach State Park, the Eagle River Nature Center is an awesome place to learn more about the park, its resources, and what makes it so unique. It’s also a trailhead for several beautiful hikes. The Albert Loop Trail is a moderate hike—three miles or so—through some of the Eagle River Valley’s most pristine wildlife habitat. If the loop becomes too snow covered for hiking, it is groomed for cross country skiing. When you go in winter, bring skis or snowshoes, just in case.

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One of the cool things about the breathtaking views along the Middle Fork Trail is that they’re only open to biking during the winter months. Get started at the Prospect Heights Trailhead, head up (southeast) the Powerline Trail and drop down onto Middle Fork near Glen Alps and follow the trail to where it connects with the Wolverine Bowl Trail and ascends back up to Prospect Heights. If you’ve worked up an appetite, the Prospect Heights Trailhead is a few miles from Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ’s original location in Indian. You can even order online or over the phone and grab your ribs on the go.

There’s no better way to get back all those calories you burned on your Alaskan winter adventure than some good ol’ homestyle cookin.’ And you’ll find some of Anchorage’s most popular comfort food at Kriner’s Diner. Get ready to devour some meatloaf, chicken-fried steak, an open-faced, hot turkey sandwich or one of their renowned burgers. Don’t forget to top it off with a slice of pie!

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8 Best Archery Outfitters in Alaska Big game abounds on the Last Frontier—from elk, to bison, to caribou—making it a bowhunter’s paradise. And if you’re a bowhunter or target archer, you need a place where you can get the gear and equipment you need to shoot. These are our favorite stores for archery gear in Alaska.

Backcountry Archery is a small shop in Anchorage that specializes in top-notch archery sales and service. The owner is an archery guru, who is as generous with his knowledge as he is skilled with his craft. As one customer puts it, Backcountry Archery is “the one and only place in Anchorage… to go for anything to do with bows.” High praise indeed.

Screaming Eagle Archery of Alaska has a 20-lane archery range where you can take a lesson, hone your skills, or just blow off some steam. They also have a fully-stocked pro shop where you can buy bows, arrows, and accessories. If you need a repair or a tune, Screaming Eagle can help you out there, as well.

Folks in the Interior will find a full-service pro shop, along with 22 indoor lanes on North Pole Archery Supply’s range. They carry more than half a dozen brands of bows, such as Hoyt and Martin, as well as strings, arrows, releases, and sights.


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In Anchorage, your full-service archery pro shop is Full Curl Archery. Full Curl carries a wide selection of bows and archery gear, including broadheads for hunting Alaska’s big game. They also have an indoor archery range, offer lessons, and can do equipment maintenance and repair.

You’ll find the only indoor archery range in Faribanks at Precision Archery, a newer entrant in the Interior’s archery community. Precision Archery is an authorized dealer for several respected bow brands, as well as archery gear and accessory brands. Their pro shop can also handle most any repair or maintenance job. 

Archers on the Kenai Peninsula can not on practice their shooting skills on Northern Simulator’s indoor, virtual TechnoHunt range, they can also find—or order—all the archery equipment they need, as well. Northern Simulators also offers archery lessons and leagues throughout the year.  

Capital City archers will appreciate the indoor archery range at Juneau Mercantile and Armory. They are a full-service archery shop that can tune or repair your gear. As far as sales, if you don’t see what you’re looking for in stock, Juneau Mercantile can order it for you.

We do archery too! #archery

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If you’re heading to Kodiak island for some hunting, Cy’s Sporting Goods is where you’ll find the archery supplies you need. Cy’s carries both compound and traditional (recurve) bows, and will cut arrows to size for your bow. They also sell plenty of accessories from broadhead tips to game calls.

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Alaska Alaska’s renowned fisheries keep the country—and the world—in fish, from snow crab and king salmon to halibut and king crab. The fine fishing of Alaska, in turn, attracts anglers of all sorts, from seasoned locals to halibut-happy tourists. The one thing they all have in common, though, is the need for the right gear. And here are our favorite places to get the bait, tackle, and fishing equipment you’ll need in Alaska.

Whether you’re a novice angler in town for a week or a seasoned veteran who knows every rock in Ship Creek, the Bait Shack is the place to go for fishing gear, flies, bait, and fish stories. In addition to the deep local knowledge that they’re happy to share, the Bait Shack can also rent you equipment and guide you to the fish.

Anglers setting out from Thorne Bay—once home to the world’s largest logging camp (it still holds the record)—can pick up all the gear they need at the Tackle Shack. Whether you need a rod, a reel, bait or simply some good, local advice, the Tackle Shack can oblige you.

Haines is Alaska’s self-proclaimed “adventure capital,” and fishing is a big part of the adventure. Before heading out on the Delta to chase a chinook, stop by the Alaska Sport Shop at Olerud’s Market Center for any marine or fishing gear that you’ll need. Their knowledgeable staff can help you set up your gear, let you know where the bite is, and what they’re hitting.

Folks fishing on or from Prince of Wales Island, incidentally the fourth-largest island in the U.S., can find all the gear, bait, and tackle they need at Log Cabin Sporting Goods in Craig. In addition to equipment, the store’s staff can help you out with advice on the local hot spots.

If you’re fishing the Kenai Peninsula, whether on shore or offshore, you can pick up the gear, bait, and tackle you need at the Sport Shed in Homer. They’ll also let you know what’s biting, what they’re eating, and where to find them. If you plan on staying for a while, you can even rent one of their upstairs rooms.

No matter what you’re fishing for or where you’re doing it in the Mat-Su Valley—inshore on a river or offshore on the Inlet—Three Rivers Fly & Tackle will have what you need to put you on the fish. In addition to bait and tackle, they also offer classes and issue regular fishing reports, so that you’ll know what’s biting and where before you leave the house.

Since 1947, Big Ray’s Alaska Outfitter has been supply Alaska’s anglers with the gear they need, whether they’re fishing freshwater, saltwater, or flipping flies. Big Ray’s has locations in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and in Kodiak, where folks on the island can find the best selection of gear and tackle.

Another great spot for fishing gear, as well as live or frozen bait is Ken’s Alaskan Tackle in Soldotna (look for the giant king salmon on the roof). For more than 30 years, Ken’s has been dispensing rods, reels, and really good advice to locals and tourists, alike. They can also set you up with a charter.

Fly anglers will appreciate the depth of selection and expertise at Alaska Fly Fishing Goods in the capital city. Whether you’re looking for a reel, a switch rod, an insulating layer, or just a fishing report, you’ll find that the experienced staff has just the advice you need.

With a convenient harbor-front location in Hoonah, Tideland Tackle & Marine is perfectly situated to supply all the gear and tackle you’ll need before you head out onto the water for a day of fishing. No license? No problem—you can also pick that up at Tideland.

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8 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Alaska In Alaska, “fall” is a very short season—especially in the Interior and northward. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not an awesome season. Because we’re talking about the Last Frontier and not frosty New England, autumn in Alaska is more about megafauna and mega scenery than pumpkins and apple picking. These are some of our favorite fall activities in Alaska.

Every November, the folks in Sitka celebrate their seasonal population of whales, as well as the area’s other abundant sea life. The weekend-long festival includes wildlife cruises, lectures, live music, art, food, student sessions, a marine-themed arts and crafts market, and fun run (or walk, if you prefer). Looking for a place to stay during the festival? Dove Island Lodge is just the right combination of classic Alaska and getaway luxury.

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Matanuska Glacier is tucked into a valley in the State Recreation Site that bears in the same name. In the fall, the areas aspens, birches and poplars slip into their golden fall coats and surround the glacier with dazzling color. It’s an easy day trip along the Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway from Anchorage. Grayline Alaska offers excursions. Or make a long weekend of the trip at stay at the nearby Long Rifle Lodge

The American Bald Eagle Foundation has brought folks together to celebrate Alaska’s eagles for more than 20 years. Every November, the single largest concentration of bald eagles in the United States—as many as 4,000 at a time—descend on the Chilkat Valley, near Haines, to gorge themselves on late-season runs of chum and coho salmon. Food, games and live music are also on hand.

Every October, Skinny Raven Sports—Alaska’s top running store—hosts the Frightening 4K, a race in downtown Anchorage. So, lace up your fastest shoes and don your cleverest costume. That’s right: It’s not just a race, it’s also a costume contest. So, even if running is not your strongest suit, you still have a chance to take home some hardware.

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On October 18, 1867, Russia transferred the Alaska territory to the United States. The transfer ceremony took place in Sitka, and the day has been celebrated as Alaska Day ever since. The modern iteration of Alaska Day takes place every October in Sitka. The festival celebrates the state’s diversity and includes days of entertainment, road races, kayak races, Native Dances and reenactments.

Grab your bike and charge your headlight—or if you need a headlight, you can pick one up at the Bicycle Shop—and head down to Westchester Lagoon for the Arctic Bike Club’s Pitch Black Ride. This night time ride takes place after the new moon in October. In spite of its urban setting, the lagoon is a beautiful natural area that helps to obscure a lot of the city’s lights so that you can enjoy the brightness of the stars (or the shadows of the trees, if it’s cloudy).

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Every autumn, the city of Fairbanks celebrates International Friendship Day with a festival. The celebration highlights the Interior’s diverse cultures and traditions with activities and demonstrations like dance, art, crafts, music and handiwork. Celebrants will, of course, be able to sample a wide array of food from many different cultures.

Head to Seward and hit the waters of Resurrection Bay for a fall foliage and wildlife cruise with Seward Ocean Excursions. You’ll see the whales, otters and birds that make their home in the bay and among the fjords. From the water, the already-stunning views up the Chugach Mountain valleys will be brilliant with fall colors.

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A beginner’s guide: Ice fishing Vin T. Sparano, as excerpted from Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid



Ice fishing differs greatly from open-water fishing, and it is a demanding sport. It requires an understanding of and an ability to cope with winter weather, knowledge of the cold-weather habits of the fish, and the use of an unusual assortment of gear, most of it unique to ice fishing.

There are two basic ice-fishing methods: tip-up fishing and jigging. In general, tip-ups are usually used on larger fish—pike, pickerel, walleyes, trout, and such—that prefer bait and require the angler to play the waiting game. Jigging is usually preferred for smaller fish that tend to school up—bluegills, perch, crappies, and the like. But these are merely generalizations, not hard-and-fast rules. For example, jigging (sometimes called chugging) is often quite productive on big lake trout and salmon in the Great Lakes. 

Also called tilts, these come in various styles, but they all perform two basic functions: they hold a baited line leading from a revolving-type reel spool, and they signal the bite of a fish. The most common type of tip-up consists of three strips of wood, each about 18 inches long. Two are cross pieces that form an X as they span the hole. The third piece is an upright; at its bottom end is attached a simple line-holding spool, while the upper end holds the signaling device. The signal is usually a piece of very flexible spring steel with a red (some anglers prefer black) flag on the end. After the hook is baited and lowered to the desired depth, the steel arm is “cocked”—bent over and down and hooked onto a “trigger.” When a fish strikes, an arm on the revolving spool releases the steel arm and it flies erect.

In this type of tip-up, the reel is positioned underwater. In other variations, the reel is positioned above the ice. Each type has its advantages. The above-the-ice reel can be more sensitively adjusted for light-biting fish, but the line tends to freeze on the reel once it gets wet. The underwater reel largely eliminates the problem of freezing, but the fisherman must remove the tip-up from the hole before he can grab the line.

Baits for tip-up fishing are usually live. In general, it pays to match the size of the bait to the size of the fish you’re after. Baits range from tiny maggots (often called mousies) and grubs for panfish, to worms and small minnows for walleyes, and up to 6-inch baitfish for pike. 

As done by ice fishermen, jigging is simply a method of imparting an up-and-down movement to a lure or bait. Jigging can be—and is—done with any sort of line-holding rod or stick. 

Some jigging rods—more appropriately called sticks—are simply pieces of wood 18 inches or so long, with U-shaped notches in each end. The line—10-pound-test monofilament is very popular—is wound lengthwise onto the stick around the U-shaped notches and is paid out as needed. There are other types of jigging sticks of varying designs, and many ice anglers use standard spinning or spincast rods or the butt half of a fly rod. 

Rods made specially for ice jigging are simple affairs consisting of a fiberglass tip section that is 2 or 3 feet long seated in a short butt. The butt may have a simple revolving-spool reel or merely a pair of heavy-wire projections around which the line is wound. The tip section may have two to four guides, including the tip guide. The shortness of such a rod lets the user fish up close to the hole and have better control over the lure or bait at the end of his line. 

There are many and varied jigging lures and baits, but flashiness is built into most of them. Others produce best when “sweetened” with bait. Two popular jigging lures are: an ungainly looking critter with a heavy body shaped and painted to resemble a baitfish, a hook at each end and a treble hook in the middle of its underside, and a line-tie ring in the middle of its upper surface; and a long, slim, three- or four-sided, silvery model with a treble hook at one end and a line-tie ring at the other. 

Jigging methods vary with the fisherman and with the fish being sought. However, a productive way to fish many jigging lures, especially flashier types, is to twitch the lure slightly and then jerk it suddenly upward with a quick upward movement of the arm. The proper interval between jerks is learned with experience. 

Popular jigging baits include a single perch eye (either impaled on a small hook or used to sweeten a tiny hair or rubber-bodied ice fly), worms, grubs, maggots, insect larvae, minnows, and cut bait (pieces of skin or flesh that are cut from the tail or body of such fish as smelt and perch). 

Jiggers tend to move around more than tip-up fishermen, boring holes in different areas until they find a productive spot. 

Like most other forms of fishing, ice angling requires some auxiliary equipment. Most ice anglers prefer to keep such gear to a minimum, for they have to haul it with them wherever they go on the ice. 

If you’re going to fish through holes in the ice, you need something to make those holes. The ice auger is a popular tool for this job. Augers come in different designs. One has a long handle with a U-shaped bend at the top, and a rounded cutting blade at the bottom. The handle is turned much like that of a manual drill, and the blade cuts a round hole through the ice. Another type looks like a giant ice drill with sharp, widely spaced threads. It is used in the same way. Gasoline-powered ice drills are also available. 

Then there’s the ice spud or chisel. This is a heavy metal handle with a large, chisel-type blade at the bottom. The spud’s weight helps the angler punch down through the ice, but the user must shape the hole once he has broken through. 

An indispensable item of accessory gear is the ice skimmer, a ladle-type device that is used to keep the hole clear of ice chips and chunks and to skim ice. A heavy sinker will serve the same purpose. 

Many ice anglers like to use an attached spring clip. It is attached to the fishing line and used to determine the water depth—an important factor because in winter most game fish are found on or near the bottom. 

Winter is the time of year when ice fishermen venture out onto frozen waters. Most will have fun, but a few will get into trouble because they don’t know how to make sure that the ice is safe. The first rule is never take chances. There are two periods when accidents are likely to happen: early in the season when slush ice doesn’t freeze uniformly and late in the season when ice melts at an uneven rate. It takes prolonged periods of freezing to make ice safe. Here are some rules to remember: 

Be cautious of heavy snowfalls while ice is forming. Snow acts as an insulator. The result is a layer of slush and snow on top of treacherous ice. 

Clear, solid river ice is 15 percent weaker than clear lake ice. 

River ice is thinner midstream than near the banks. 

River mouths are dangerous because currents create pockets of unsafe ice. 

When walking with friends, stay 10 yards apart. 

Lakes that have a lot of springs will have weak spots of ice. 





About the author:

Vin T. Sparano is the author of Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia as well as three other guides for Rizzoli

He has been an outdoor editor and writer for more than fifty years. He is editor emeritus of Outdoor Life, and has written and edited more than fifteen books about the outdoors. In 2013, he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

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