World Ice Fishing Championships


The World Ice Fishing Championships is the third article in a four-part series written by the MI Ice Guys. MI Ice Guys will follow Chad Shaub as he prepares to compete in the 2014 World Ice Fishing Championships in Belarus.

“What the heck is that little thing?” I asked. “That does not look big enough to land anything”

Chad was holding a palm rod. The whole thing was not a foot long. He had x-ray film on the tip to act as a spring bobber. European ice fishing is a vastly different game. The fish that they pursue are small, I mean real small. Pike minnows are bigger. The style of equipment has been tailored to the smaller quandary. Being able to detect the bite of a fish that most Americans would expect to see in the bait bucket or an aquarium is a skill that the guys of the USA Ice Team have to master before their trip to Belarus this month.

Tossing the rod off to the side can be one of the best ways to take care that you don’t end up with a bird’s nest of line, but the hand wrap can be a very effective technique. You have to learn to wrap the line light enough around your hand to not have it roll and tangle but tight enough to make sure it doesn’t coil off if you are moving to another hole. Uncoiling is when the challenges present themselves. Worst case, you bite it off and tie another.

Even the jigs are only 1-1.5 mm. Chad has admitted to me that most of the tying happens indoors under good light. But he can tie on the ice if he needs to, some of the older guys might be challenged at it. Sometimes just a number of these palm rods pre- rigged and tucked in the bucket bag can make the difference in the timed heats. Some of the competitors even tuck them in the fold of their knit hat.

Ground baiting or chumming the hole is another key to the European style of ice fishing. Bringing the fish to the area around your hole rather than spending time looking for them is the goal. Remember, no fish finders or any other electronics are allowed. Krill, blood worms, or ground pretzels with glitter mixed in, all the teams seem to have a secret weapon. The rules are very specific on the amount of chum that teams can use and the technique of how it used can make the difference between a productive hole and kneeling with no luck.

Practice and repetition are critical to fishing with these tiny rods and jigs. As the team practices here in the USA before travelling to Belarus, they have been targeting small perch to develop the cadence of getting the line down the hole, jigging, landing, and back down the hole. No snafu’s. There will be a lot to think about on that long flight over to Zaslavl, Minsk Region, Belarus and then waiting for the horn to sound to drill those first holes for Team USA for WIFC IX.

Follow the team on and on the official website