Wildlife Watch: Ice fishing

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SHELBURNE, Vt. (WCAX) Have you been out on the ice this year? This weekend is Vermont's free Ice Fishing Day when anyone can get out on the ice, even if they don't have a license. Our Ike Bendavid went out on frozen Shelburne Pond with Vermont Fish and Wildlife to get some tips.

With the water frozen and our gear together, I joined Dylan Smith and Adam Miller of Vermont Fish and Wildlife for some ice fishing. We found our location, drilled a few holes and it was time to start.

"I love being outdoors," Smith said. "I have been like this since I was a little kid. I eat a lot of fish-- that's a big draw to me. I like the meal replacement. I like not having to spend money on food and knowing where it comes from."

Reporter Ike Bendavid: What's the difference-- I feel I am driving across the state and I see the shanties on the lake-- what's the difference between what I see out there and what we're doing today?
Dylan Smith: That's just a permanent way to fish in one spot. I'm a very mobile fisherman, so to me, that doesn't make sense. I wear warm gear and I just go out and I'm constantly moving and keeping warm by covering the entire lake.

Smith says he prefers using live bait and a fish finder when on the ice.

"It's a device that will tell you that the fish are there or not," he explained. "I have a fish finder so I can tell almost immediately if there is a fish out there. Basically, I give a hole a minute or two depending on the lake. That's why we cut a string of holes so you can cover a section of water and you can move from there. If you find a fish, great. If you don't, move to a new section. If you are not finding the big fish, you go for the big fish or the small fish. Whatever gets you out there and keeps you happy.

As Smith reels in a few fish, I give it a try. I couldn't catch one, so Dylan Miller took a shot at teaching me, all in friendly competition.

Miller says ice fishing is easier to pick up than you think. And during our interview, Miller reeled one in like a pro.

A day out on the ice, which they hope you try soon.

Saturday is an opportunity to try it before you buy it for ice fishing. You can hit the ice all around the state without a license all day. The celebration is headlined by the ice fishing festival at Knight Point in North Hero. The event goes from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Click here for all the details.