Why can't I find more time for fishing?
I hear some form of this question from people all the time. I wish there was a magical answer, but it all comes back to you. It isn't that you can't find more time to fish, it is that you don't place enough importance on finding time to fish. It is entirely too easy to say to yourself, “I don't have enough time.” If you value your time spent fishing enough, you will always make time to fish.
Granted, you don't need to drop everything and head off on a 4-day trip several times a month. Start slow, keep a fishing rod and a small tackle box in your vehicle and fish during your lunch hour. On your way to, or from work, stop at a small lake or stream and make a few casts. You will begin to find yourself looking forward to your little breaks from the bump and grind that you will start allocating yourself the time to fish. Heck, you may even start planning that fishing trip you have always wanted to go on.
Either way, this is entirely on you. There is no shortage of fishable water in this state, get out and make the most of it.
What do you do when a cell phone falls down the hole?
I can tell you from watching someone else that has done this, what not to do. First, don't ask to borrow someone else's phone to see if you can call it. You just dropped yours down the hole, no one that watched that incident has any faith in your ability not to fumble another, and as we all know, anything dropped in a fish house will immediately find its way down the hole. There is an additional gravitational force around a hole drilled in the ice, that I doubt even Stephen Hawking could explain.
Second, don't demand a ride back to shore “just to check to see if you left it in your car”. It's gone, accept it and move on. Or, in the occasional special case, where your brand new (have had it for less than 36 hours) phone's insurance covers everything except loss, it is time to start formulating a plan to retrieve it.
The first step in recovery is to carefully mark the hole the phone went down. Do this with both GPS and something frozen into the hole itself. GPS will get you close, but can often be off by a few feet, and a few feet makes a huge difference when trying to retrieve a cell phone trapped under three feet of ice. Before you go on to deciding how to retrieve your phone, you need to decide how valuable it is to you, if the answer is not very, then by all means go after it with a roof rake with a minnow net duct-taped to the end. However, when this is unsuccessful for over a week of trying, call a professional.
In this specific case, we called in a diver buddy of mine. It took him longer to get his ice diving gear on than it did to recover the phone. Lesson learned for my friend, don't have your cell phone in a hooded sweatshirt front pocket when in a fish house.
How do you keep shiners alive when going tip up fishing?
Don't sneeze! Seriously, bait store shiners have to be the most delicate of all living creatures. I have caught my own shiners out of lakes for use as bait and they will survive a week in a 5 gallon bucket at 80 degrees. Not bait store shiners, however. If a snowflake lands in your minnow bucket and offsets the pH level by even a bit, you will have $30 worth of bait floating belly-up. Same with sneezing, if you walk out of the bait store with an oxygen bag full of shiners and a little old lady walking down the block sneezes, at least half of them will be dead within two minutes.
For me, there is nothing better than sucker minnows for tip-up fishing. Not only do they last longer than it takes to drive from the bait shop to the lake, they also survive multiple hookings. I try not to only stay mobile when I am fishing with an ice rod, but also with my tip-ups. If one flag is not moving, I am constantly changing up my setups. Changing from a quickstrike rig to a light circle hook can make a huge difference, as can rehooking the minnow upside down so that it is constantly trying to right itself.
Suckers come in all shapes and sizes, from little guys (2”) up to spearing decoy size (14”+). All fish will eat a sucker given the chance, so why waste time trying to keep alive some sissy minnows like shiners?
Ice Fishing: live bait or plastics? Bottles or cans?
Interesting questions, especially when paired together. I have long been a proponent of artificial bait when fishing for panfish. Plastics have come a long way in design and chemical makeup in the last 10 years, and more is right around the corner. That being said, it is more about confidence level than anything else. If you have confidence that you will catch more fish with either plastics or live bait, you will. A presentation you have confidence in will always outperform anything else, due to the fact that you will spend more time with it.
So for the every day angler that is still struggling with the idea of using plastics instead of live bait, why not try bolstering your confidence in plastics by, gasp!, using them both at the same time? A jig tipped with a plastic then topped off with a waxworm or eurolarvae will satisfy your need to use live bait as well as teach you how great plastics actually are for ice fishing.
As for the beer question, always cans. Glass bottles can break too easily when thrown in the tub of the fish house. Also, in the rare instance your beer has become warm, aluminum cans float in the ice hole, while glass bottles sink to the bottom. Save the micro-brews for the fish fry after you are done. No one in a fish house has ever turned down High-Life in a can.