Category Archives: Techniques

Ice Fishing Gear

Since some of you have asked, here is a list of Ice Fishing gear to get you started.

Ice Fishing Tip Up
The tip up is typically spooled with Dacron and tied to a 10 foot leader of 6lb mono. Live shiners are hooked through the dorsal using size 6 or 8 circle hook.

Ice Fishing Gear

  • Ice Fishing Auger
    • 6 inch hand auger is plenty fine for NJ ice.
    • Gas powered augers make quick work when punching lots of holes, just make sure it starts!
    • Propane augers are even nicer as they almost always start right up.
  • Tip Ups, typically spooled with 30lb Dacron and tied to a leader. I use 8lb fluorocarbon or 6lb monofilament for most ice fishing.
    • In NJ you can fish 5 tip ups at once.
    • Jig with a small ice fishing rod if you want, just beware that you’ll only be able to fish 4 tip ups + 1 rod or any combination thereof as long as it equals 5. “All devices not hand-held must bear the name and address of the user and can’t be left unattended” – more nj rules here
  • Ice ladle to scoop ice out of your drilled holes once in a while
  • some size 6 or 8 hooks, I prefer circle hooks but bait-holder hooks work fine too, you might gut hook a fish through.
  • some 3/8oz to keep your bait down
  • speaking of bait, live shiners work well. Hook them through the dorsal fin so they can swim around nice.
  • long needle-nose pliers to help get the hook out of Chain Pickerel, they have sharp teeth and will cut you.

Clothing and Comfort

  • Waterproof Boots
    • It’s not uncommon for there to be an inch or more of slush on top of the ice.
    • Do yourself a favor and wear some insulated-waterproof duck boots or pack boots.
    • No waterproof boots handy? put on your socks, then slip your feet into a plastic bag before putting your shoes/boots on.
  • Dress in layers
    • Thermals
    • fleece pants & jacket
    • wind/waterproof outer shell
  • winter hat
  • gloves
  • sunglasses if it’s going to be sunny
  • Bring a bucket or chair to sit on.

These are the essentials. If you’re going to out all day, bring food and drinks too!

Ice Fishing Tips – Finding Fish

Sometimes finding fish through the ice just takes persistence. Don’t give up. This ice fishing technique article will help you improve your chances of catching fish by systematically finding them even if you don’t have a contour map, flasher or telepathy!

I’ve had good success fishing transitions, both along them and across them, so let’s take a closer look at what’s going on under the water in this animated gif.

Countour Map - Round Valley animated gif
4mb, kinda big so give it a few seconds to load.

Watch the animation as it reveals the contour lines, each line is a 5 foot increment, the closer the lines, the steeper the transition. The northwest corner and northeast corners look promising, I would set a line of tip ups right on top of of one of those green lines. The first tip up should be very shallow, in 5 to 7 feet of water with the live shiner suspended 1 to 2 feet off the bottom. Keep punching holes keep punching hoses every 10 feet. Again, drop all those shiners to the bottom, then pull up 1 to 2 feet so the shiner isn’t just laying hiding in the mud. Note* In New Jersey ice anglers may use no more than five devices, i.e. a combination of tip-ups and/or jigging rods. All devices not hand-held must bear the name and address of the user and can’t be left unattended.

This next part is VERY important. Once your holes are drilled and tip ups set…sit down and wait. Sure you can jig in another hole, but don’t check your bait, the tip ups will do their job. Just sit there for 30 minutes. If you get no flags or fish after 30 minutes, bring your bait up on all the tip ups a little, like 2 to 3 feet. Now go and sit for another 30 minutes and wait. Keep doing this, when you can’t bring up your bait any higher in the shallow hole, drill a new hole ~10 feet from the end of your furthest tip up, drop the bait to the bottom and keep repeating the process. Keep repeating until you catch a fish, which I can almost guarantee you will.

Why will this ice fishing technique work?

  1. you are putting in the time, in 6 hours you will make 12 moves – note, if you have a terrible memory make a note of what move you are on
  2. you are covering different zones within the lake, you’re in discovery mode, looking for structure.
  3. you are covering different depths, still in discovery mode, looking for the thermocline the fish feel comfortable feeding in.

Once you catch a fish, smile, maybe take a quick pic. Then move some tip ups.

Move your tip ups after first fish
Imagine your first fish was caught in the center blue dot. You now place two new holes to the North and South and at the same depth.

Move the two furthest ones. Punch 2 new holes perpendicular the one you caught your fish on, ~10 feet or along a contour if you know you’re on one. And set your bait at the same depth in which you caught your fish. Wait 30 minutes, etc… etc…
you get the idea. Keep doing this and you will have better luck finding actively feeding fish.

That’s it! Hope this helps & please leave a comment or subscribe to our eNewsletter to get all the latest tips and reports from Round Valley Fishing!

Shore Fishing 101 – Slip Bobber Rigs

In my last “shore fishing 101” article we covered bait selection for fishing the shoreline of Round Valley for Trout, so I’m going to continue to cover the basics in this article by explaining the proper way to use a slip bobber while fishing from the shoreline.  Now, there are two basic rigs that I use when I’m fishing the shoreline for Trout, slip bobbers and slip sinker rigs; however I will be covering slip sinker rigs in my next article. Both of these rigs are simple and will produce a lot of fish if used properly.

Slip Bobbers
Slip Bobbers come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, materials, and rigging options.

Why Use a Slip Bobber?

The slip bobber rig will allow you to suspend your bait at virtually any depth you want, while still allowing for easy casting. If you’ve ever tried to cast a traditional bobber setup with the hook any more than three feet away from your bobber you know it gets awkward to impossible.

When to Use a Slip Bobber?

In the hot summer months, trout go deep in search of cool water and your bait presentation is typically on the bottom. In the Fall, Winter, and Spring trout start moving around more in search of their comfort zone and it’s easiest to find that zone with a slip bobber.


To start out fishing with slip bobbers, you will need a fairly short, as well as cheap, list of tackle to set up your rig;

  • A small barrel swivel
  • Slip bobber (make sure it’s big enough to prevent your live bait from pulling it under)
  • Bobber stop (typically a small plastic tube with thread spooled around it, some also come with beads)
  • Small egg sinker or split shot
  • Size #6 or #8 bait holder or circle hook
  • Approximately 12-inch long fluorocarbon leader (Maximum 8-lb test)

Rigging the Slip Bobber

Visualize how the completed setup will look: hook > leader > swivel > sinker > bobber > bead > bobber stop > rod > reel > you!

Slip Bobber Rig
A complete slip bobber rig consists of a hook > leader > swivel > sinker > bobber > bead > bobber stop .

1. Start putting this rig together by opening the bail on your reel and threading your fishing line through the plastic tube of the bobber stop. The plastic tube needs to come off so it’s important to do this now before you forget. Slide the thread off the tube and gently pull the tag ends so you get a nice looking knot directly on your mono. get it snug but do not tighten it yet, you’ll want to do that after setting the depth. Discard the plastic tube.

2. Next, thread a bead onto your line and then your slip bobber. If your bobber stop came with beads, use one. The bead is there to prevent your knot from slipping through the opening in the top of your bobber. It’s a rare case when the bead should not be used.

3. Next, thread a small 1/8 or 1/4-ounce egg sinker onto your line after your slip bobber. Then tie on your barrel swivel. The swivel acts as a stop for you egg sinker and can help with line twist when bringing in a fish. If you chose to use a split shot, instead of the egg sinker, it should be placed directly above your swivel, above the knot. don’t clamp down on your knot!

4. Now, all you need to complete your slip bobber rig is a leader and hook. For a leader, as stated before, you will want to be using about a 12-inch long fluorocarbon leader made of up to 8-lb test fluorocarbon. I personally won’t use anything heavier than 4-lb because of Round Valley’s crystal clear water and the fact that Trout are very line shy. As for hooks, I always use size #8 Gamakatsu Octupus Circle hooks since the purpose of those hooks is for use with live bait, and the way they’re points are angled they usually end up setting right in the corner of the fishes mouth when used properly making for easier hook removal and is better for catch and release. But if you don’t have any of those, a size #6 or #8 Gamakatsu Octopus or any regular bait-holder hook will work perfectly fine.

5. You should now have everything on your line in the proper order and all you need to do before you start fishing is set the depth of your bobber stop. The way I usually go about this is using my rod as a measuring tool. So if you know you have say a 5-foot long fishing rod and want to set your bait down 20-feet, you would just simply slide out line from your reel while measuring the length of the rod four times since you have a 5-foot rod and want to get down to 20-feet. After you’ve done that all you need to do is slide the bobber stop knot to the 20-foot mark, pull the tag ends tight this time, clip off the excess and you’re ready to fish with a slip bobber!

Round Valley Brown Trout
23.5-inch Brown Trout caught in September 2014 on a shiner under a slip bobber; my first Fall 2014 slip bobber catch!
Round Valley Brown Trout
23-inch Brown Trout that caught on a Shiner under a slip bobber in December 2013.
Round Valley Rainbow Trout
23-inch Rainbow Trout that fell to a Shiner under a slip bobber in December 2013.

Night Fishing for Catfish at Round Valley

Channel Catfish
Zach Merchant holds a 6.1-lb Channel Catfish caught at Round Valley Reservoir.

Fishing for catfish at Round Valley is generally a lot slower than Spruce Run, however the few that you do get are almost always bigger than the fish you would get on average at Spruce run.

Catfish Baits

I’ve found that the best baits for catfish at Round Valley are live Shiners or live Herring, dead Herring, and pieces of shrimp.

Catfish Season

Sitting around in cold weather isn’t fun…unless of course you’re ice fishing, so most of the catfishing we do in the warmer summer months. When targeting catfish at Round Valley, I don’t usually hit the water until around 10:00 p.m. or so since for the most part the catfish there seem to start hitting fairly late.

Catfish Structure

As for location, try to find a shallow feeding shelf with quick access to deeper water, and some sort of structure that will hold bait (weed beds, rocks, etc). Common areas are the coves around the boat launches, sandy point, both sides of the dike near the ends and more, depends on how much you want to walk!