Columns | Kane County Chronicle

Adventures on the ice: Local fishing expert leads classes, ice fishing derby with St. Charles Park District

Kyle Goddard grew up fishing on local ponds and rivers and now he’s ready to share his passion with the next generation and help them to get hooked.

“I grew up fishing in the area and started ice fishing in my 20s,” said Goddard, who was on the college fishing team for Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

Goddard is the owner of Get Hooked Illinois, a business he created to help teach all ages about the joy of fishing. He’s teaching classes about ice fishing for the St. Charles Park District select Saturdays this winter and he’ll be directing the district’s first Ice Fishing Derby, weather permitting.

Goddard and fellow ice fishing fans will be crossing their fingers for below freezing temperatures to create a thick, solid layer of clear ice for the Ice Fishing Derby from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 4, at the pond located on the East Side Sports Complex in St. Charles. For the event, there will be prizes for largest fish, smallest fish and most variety of fish.

The catch-and-release ice fishing event is a great way for families to venture out for some fun, Goddard said.

“Ice fishing is definitely more family-orientated,” Goddard said.

It’s best to enjoy ice fishing with a friend, family or in a small group for safety concerns, and Goddard said that’s just another reason the sport tends to draw families together as they learn the basics and enjoy some winter fun.

His ice fishing classes are recommended for ages 5 and older. Along with instruction, he provides all the equipment including a “spud bar,” otherwise known as an ice chisel, which is a long steel pipe with a sharp edge that can be used to cut a hole in the ice and, more important, to check the ice’s thickness. It’s essential to check the ice is thick and safe before venturing on it. Goddard said he prefers clear ice, rather than cloudy ice, which is a sign of a lot of air pockets in the ice that may create less secure ice.

“The less air in the ice, the denser it will be,” Goddard said.

Because fish tend to head to the deeper parts of the water during the winter, ice fishing means heading out on frozen lakes and ponds, rather than fishing from the banks. Other important equipment is using a large bucket or even a cooler to serve as a chair on the ice. An old yoga mat can be useful to set down on the ice as well, so when you kneel on the ice you can have an extra layer between your body and the ice.

Goddard said his classes review how to dress for ice fishing and the best items to layer clothing and stay warm, from underlayers to snowpants.

“Wool is good to keep moisture off your body,” Goddard said.

With the right tools, warm layers of clothing and a great attitude, ice fishing can be a fun winter sport.

As for bait, when it comes to ice fishing, Goddard said wax worms make a good bait. Bait will be sold on-site, if needed.

To register for these and other St. Charles Park District activities, visit