Ice Fishing For Beginners

Ice Fishing For Beginners

By: Shannon Mallette

The weather is getting colder but you don’t want to stop fishing. Ready to give ice fishing a try? This article has everything you need to get out on the ice, stay safe and have fun!

Ice picks

Ice picks

Dress in layers, start with a moisture wicking material. You can always remove a layer if you become too warm. Be prepared for any type of weather. Plan to add some of these layers once you get to the water so you are not making yourself sweat on the way, which could result in hypothermia later.  Insulated, waterproof boots are a must. It is a good idea to put ice cleats on your boots to help your grip while walking along slippery ice.  A snow suit would be ideal, or snow pants. You will need a waterproof and windproof jacket. Don’t forget your gloves and hat! A life jacket is also important, especially for first and last ice. It is a good idea to have an extra set of clothes in the car as well as towels. Around your neck you will want a whistle and safety picks. If you fall through the ice, you can use the safety picks to pull yourself out while using the whistle to call loudly for help. Also bring a rope, if you see someone who has fallen in you can throw the rope and pull them to safety.

When you get to the ice you’ll want to make sure it is safe to walk on. Don’t walk on ice that is less than 4 inches thick. Follow a path if there is one. Have a spud bar with you-as you walk on the ice, slam the spud down in front of you. If it bounces keep walking, but if it pierces the ice slowly back up as that ice is not safe to walk on. Always make sure to check more than one spot as the ice will not freeze evenly.
ice-safety
You’ll want something to carry all of your gear in, it is highly recommended to have a five gallon bucket and a sled. All of your gear can fit in the bucket and on the sled, and the bucket can double as a seat.

Ice Fishing Shanty

Ice Fishing Shanty

An ice shanty, like an ice house/tent, will keep you protected from the elements. It is not required, but will definitely make your experience much more pleasurable. Some anglers will also bring a portable heater or grill. If you do, remember to check the ice and use caution underneath and around the heated area.

You will need an auger to make a hole in the ice. There are plenty of augers out there to choose from, but a simple 4-6 inch hand auger is all you really need. The blades are extremely sharp so again, use caution. Once your hole is dug, use a skimmer to scoop all of the slush out. It is also a good idea to have a shovel with you if there is a lot of snow on top of the ice.

You can choose to fish with tip ups, an ice rod, or both. Set the tip ups with your bait of choice. Shiners and worms are

Ice Fishing Tip-up

Ice Fishing Tip-up

some of the most popular. Use a dip net so you don’t have to stick your hand in the water of your bait bucket. Braid is typically used with tip ups, along with a leader if there are pike or pickerel around. All you need to do with the tip up is wait for the flag to pop up! To keep yourself busy, bring along an ice rod and your favorite jigs. These rods use light ice line, and are a ton of fun for catching any type of fish!

A couple final tips- don’t fish alone on the ice, and be aware of the weather and changing conditions. Make sure you always tell someone your plan- where you will be and what time. If something happens, this person can direct help in the right direction for you.

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