Ice-fishing is the best possible antidote for cabin fever. If you are one of those who goes crazy staying indoors during winter and have a strong sense of adventure, ice-fishing might be the right fit for you. Whether you live somewhere where the lakes get thick enough ice to walk over or you want to travel there to experience this, here are a few tips and information to make your next ice-fishing trip a success!
Don’t fall through the ice!
We don’t want you falling through the ice and getting hypothermia. Do not take risks, play it safe and only go ice-fishing when you are 100% sure that the ice is thick enough and safe better stay home and watch some Netflix. Most experienced ice-anglers say the ice should be at least 10-12 centimeters thick. Check with local authorities when possible, as they are constantly checking to insure your safety. Fishing with other anglers is also a good idea, in that case bring some rope just in case. Always bring ice picks and continue to check the ice thickness and quality as you walk over the lake.
Stay warm and dry ;)
If you search online you will find an overwhelming amount of gear designed for ice-fishing. However, you don’t need to go all fancy. The most important thing is for you to have the right clothes to stay warm and dry. Make sure you have water and windproof bibs for temperatures can be crazy low, but the wind even more! Make sure you have the right layers underneath to keep the warmth inside, let the sweat out and quickly dry if you get wet. Wool is a good option, but there are a number of other materials that work as well. Lastly, don’t forget warm waterproof boots, gloves, scarfs and if need be balaclavas. ;)
Be ready to handle the ice
Ice-fishing definitely requires some extra steps like drilling through the ice and protecting yourself and gear from the elements, so be prepared. You definitely need an ice auger to drill through the ice many times during your fishing session. These can be propane, electric or gas, if you are buying see what works best for you, otherwise rent from local fishing guides or specialized companies. Some anglers like to also have an ice-flasher to monitor fish activity through the ice. Then off course don’t forget one or two ice-fishing rods with lines. You can get many more things, but if you’re just trying ice-fishing this will be more than enough.
Plan for some comfort ;)
Being outside in the cold with wind or snow can be tough. In these cases you might want to consider buying or renting some kind of shelter or ice-house. Consider that you will be outside for a number of hours! Also think about where to sit and keep your gear. One cool hack is to bring a big bucket with a lid which you can use for storing your catches and also sitting on. Freezing temperatures make everything more intense, but these small details can make a huge difference.
Figure out how to carry your gear
Ice-fishing is especially tricky with all the gear you have to carry with you. Don’t try to carry it all yourself, instead get a sled. You could get around with a kid’s sled, but it might be worth buying or renting an ice-fishing sled. These are specifically designed to carry the weight and dimensions of the gear used for ice-fishing. Remember that any effort you make in below zero temperatures is way more intense than in normal weather conditions.
Check regulations and licenses
As you would do during any other time of the year, check the local regulations. Are you allowed to go ice-fishing in that particular lake? How many fish can you keep? Are you required to have a license? When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to talk to a local angler or fishing guide. If you decide to go with a fishing guide these will provide all the equipment you need and make sure you comply with local regulations and stay safe. All important, especially on your first ice-fishing trip. Don’t forget you can use the Fishsurfing app for that ;)
Do you ice-fish regularly? Share your pictures and stories with the Fishsurfing community. We'd love to hear about your adventures.