How long has ice fishing been around?
Mar 3rd, 2019 by Keith Worrall 1982
Modified Mar 3rd, 2019 at 9:28 PM
Did you ever wonder who was the first person to walk out on the ice and try to catch a fish? Who thought of chopping a hole in the ice to get at the fish swimming below?
Historians aren’t quite sure who were the first hardwater anglers, but archeologists have found evidence that ice fishing dates back over 2000 years to native peoples in what is now the United States and Canada. It probably began as a way of survival in those periods when ice covered the water. The people knew the fish were there, but they had to figure out how to get to them.
Somewhere back in our history, an ingenious individual thought he’d walk out on the ice, chop a hole in it and spear any fish that swam by. They harpooned the fish with wood or bone tipped spears. Someone else came up with the idea to build a structure over the hole they chopped in the ice that would block out all the light so the fish couldn’t see them.
The fisherman sat in the dark in his hut and peered down into the water. The next idea was to carve a bit of wood and bone into the shapes of bait fish and hang them down into the water to attract bigger fish. This technique is still practiced today and is known as “dark house” fishing.
The first Europeans who saw dark house fishing let their brethren know about it and it began in northern Europe around 1500. When the ability to make the first crude fishing line came about, anglers adapted this method to fish. Carve out a lure, tie it to the line, walk to the edge of the ice, swing it around over your head and toss it out into open water. That really expanded the amount of area a person could fish and it was easier than chopping hole in the ice.
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From a historical perspective, tip-ups are a relatively new way to catch fishing through the ice. Tip-ups date back 100 years or so, but icefishing dates back over 2,000 years. With that kind of icefishing, you chopped a hole in the ice and then waited next to the hole with a spear to harpoon any fish that swam by. Tip-up are much easier to use and anglers catch lots more fish with this technique. Good luck if you are out there icefishing. Stay warm.