After hearing the awe-inspiring story of your friend on his last ice fishing expedition, you may have decided not to miss out on the opportunity of going for ice fishing this year.
It hardly matters if you have a keen interest in catching fish, ice fishing promises a lot of excitement in several ways.
But, ice fishing is different from water fishing. You are going to treasure the experience of getting together with friends in the white laden arena. But before you go, you should make the necessary preparations.
However, the preparations for ice fishing can take time as it includes a whole lot of things that can be considered indispensable.
So, right from the dress to the accessories, from the gadgets to the medicines, your preparations must be full-proof.
Feeling lost? Don’t worry; I have got all this covered for you. Once you finish reading this entire beginners guide, you will be better prepared for your next ice fishing mission.
The must-have wearables for ice fishing
Apparently, ice fishing will mean braving rough climatic conditions which can quickly transform a pleasant outing into a miserable one. Without the adequate preparations, you are most likely to get in trouble. Therefore, the necessary homework must begin with the choice of the dress.
Considering the rapid changes in temperatures and the hostile winds you must dress in layers. When you dress in layers, you are destined to remain warm, and if necessary you can get rid of the extra layers when the weather gets warmer and vice versa.
And here is how to get started:
A lot depends on the proper selection of the base layer. Ideally, the cloth should remain tightly attached with your skin that is going to safeguard you from the extreme cold temperatures.
Preferably, the polypropylene or any cloth which has a mixed synthetic base should be considered. These materials tend to dry quickly, and unlike cotton, they can successfully evade the moisture accumulation. For instance, the ColdPruf Men’s Enthusiast Single Layer Long Sleeve available to buy from Amazon can be an excellent choice.
You will find a wide variety of sizes to choose from. The top is lightweight and has seamless sides to provide additional layering comfort. It has a robust perspiration management system. Undoubtedly, the best base layer for ice fishing.
The mid layer will comprise the ones you wear between the inner and outer layer. The jackets are the best choices to be used as the middle layer.
However, the mid layer does not need to be tight fitting like the base layer. And depending on the weather, you can also go for two middle layers. You have a wide range of choices for the type of materials including fleece, wool and much more.
Your primary aim would be to select a material that can effectively withstand the gusty winds. Though, you can check out the Wantdo Men’s Mountain Waterproof Ski Jacket (Links to Amazon) for your mid layer. The jacket is waterproof, windproof, has multiple pockets and is available in standard sizes. The jacket is just ideal for any ice sporting activities.
Sometimes, the jacket you prefer for the mid layer can also be used as the outer layer.
The things to bear in mind while making the selection for the outer layer clothes; they should be waterproof, windproof, and rip-proof. The jacket I mentioned above while discussing the mid layer is already capable of these.
Additionally, you have to focus on the pants. When you are out for ice fishing, you should be ready to face the music of snow, sleet, slush and a plethora of other intimidating conditions.
The Arctix Men’s Snow Sports Cargo Pants from Amazon has it all. It packs the punch of 85 grams of Therma Tech insulation, offers you safety from wear and tears and most importantly it is very light. Furthermore, it also comes with multiple pockets to help you carry out essential things.
For the Head
All your arrangements can go in vain if you do not pick up the proper head covering. Generally, I tend to focus a lot on the upper and lower wearables and overlook the importance of the hats or caps. In order to combat the chill, you should get the right hat for head protection.
Navigate to Amazon and take a look at similar items like Bodvera Winter Knit Wool Warm Cap (Link to Amazon). The cap can also be considered a great style statement; additionally, it also keeps the ears warm since it is made of a soft fleece inner lining.
Proper fitting is essential, and if the cap/hat is loosely fit, the wind will sneak in. The aforementioned cap is available for all sizes so you can get the best fit.
For the eyes
And of course! Do not forget the sunglasses. They are a great option to protect your eyes from the cold winds and the glare of the sun.
Now, you have a wide variety of sunglasses to choose from, products similar to the GREY JACK Lightweight Al-Mg Alloy Metal Half-frame for men and women that offer 100% protection from the harmful UV rays is a good choice. Carrying a neck warmer, face mask and the sunscreen will also help.
For the feet
- Socks: Preferably, just go for the woolen socks. And remember to carry an additional pair, in case you get one of them wet. Your primary criteria would be to select those socks that are going to keep moisture at bay. A new pair of socks is always feasible you will seldom want old slouchy socks to cause a disturbance, as wearing those, your feet will always feel cold. You can get Pembrook Woolen Socks from Amazon.
- Shoes: You are going to depend a lot on the shoes to take you places when you are wandering on the ice. It does not require to be told, the importance of a different pair of shoes for walking in the ice. Take a look at this great product from Amazon, Limm Pro Traction Cleats For Ice and Snow – Quickly And Easily Grips Over Footwear. The shoe has full-anti slip protection, and it comes with ten metal steel studs, this ensures you are never going to tumble on the ice as it offers great traction.
For the hands
It seems like we covered everything, isn’t it? But wait! What about the hands?
The selection of gloves is equally essential. Now, here is the catch. Keeping your hands warm isn’t the only criterion here. You would want a pair of gloves that make it easy for you to grip the fishing rod, attaching the bait and many more activities where the hands are indispensable.
The Glacier Glove ICE BAY Fishing Glove from Amazon should be a good choice. It is wholly waterproof and will keep your hands warm. Do carry an extra pair of gloves just in case you need them.
The must-have ice fishing shelter accessories
Whether you are going out with your friends to have unlimited fun or with the aim of catching fish, you ought to spend a significant amount of time sitting on the ice. Some specific accessories can make your sitting experience more comfortable.
Let’s go deeper.
A very simple, yet a very useful accessory, a foot pad is a ventilated rubber mat which can be used to rest your feet when you are sitting on the ice.
Clam Accessory Console
The calm accessory console can be classified as the console organizer for your vehicle. You will be able to store your preferred beverages, jig boxes, and even your mobile phone. Usually, the clam accessory console works with all the basic fish trap models.
Magnetic Parts Holder
Wondering why you would need a magnetic parts holder for your ice fishing venture?
It will not take a lot of space in your bag, as it is not bigger than the size of a pickle jar lid. You can use the magnetic parts holder to hold your lures or live baits, and they are never going to bounce out. So, isn’t this useful?
Thus, always ensure you are carrying this small but important item. You can get magnetic parts holder from Amazon.
Portable Battery Charger
You are visiting an unmanned terrain. Communicating with your friends is very important.
What if your phone’s battery gets drained out?
The portable battery charger will come in handy in such circumstances. The present-day smartphones as I am aware, offer a host of other facilities apart from doing their primary job of making calls. GPS, Compass are some of the utilities that are just indispensable during such fishing expeditions.
The essential safety measures for ice fishing
I bet, the items we are going to mention right now were never in your consideration.
Yes, these are personal items basically, but they can make a lot of difference. It is obvious, the primary focus will be on piling up the essential things necessary for ice fishing and thus you will never spare a thought for these, but this is where I can help, so let us get rolling.
- Medicines: I keep on reiterating, ice fishing can turn into a nightmare sooner or later. Thus, you should be well prepared with the first aid kits and some of the necessary medicines. Additionally, if you are already taking any medication for a certain health condition, do not forget to grab them up.
- Bottles, shampoos, hand wash, mouthwash: Some way or the other, you will require the services of all these things. Particularly, when your hands get dirty, and the stubborn mud won’t come off. The hand wash will be of great help. Carrying a spare bottle or two always helps. If you happen to run out of the water, you can fill it up from nearby places.
- Buckets: You need some buckets after all, where else do you plan to keep the fish that you are going to catch. Somehow, if you forget about it, do not fret, you should be able to get one from the ice fishing store easily.
- Insect repellant: You never know, bugs can be everywhere, so it is better to carry some kind of insect repellant to wade off these pests. If you are a serious angler, you would not appreciate the bugs disturbing you.
- Portable first aid kit: Ouch! Something bit you; it can be an insect or even the fish. Also, the consistent exposure to cold can give you a sore foot, headache. Again despite the best of precautions, you fall accidentally and bruise your body part. The portable first aid kit will be there for help. Double check to ensure, the box contains bandages, alcohol swabs, gauze, pain relievers, medical tape, an antibiotic ointment, and antihistamines.
The must-have items for catching fish during ice fishing
Finally, we arrive at the business end of ice fishing. It’s time to get your arsenal ready. Apparently, the first thing that will come to your mind will be the costs.
Well, I can assure you, it doesn’t cost a fortune to build up your arsenal. Being an ice fishing enthusiast, you should be able to manage the must-have items for bagging fish easily. Of course, you can help your cause by researching further on the price and the quality of these essential items.
I am also going to contribute and offer you suggestions on these necessary items. Let’s start.
Rods and Reels
Even if this is your first outing for ice fishing, the necessity of rods and reels need no introduction.
Now, take a deep breath and think. If you are serious about catching fish, which type of fish would you prefer bagging?
Yes, you have ample choices of rods and reels, and you can conveniently order them by clicking your mouse. But, will they really serve your purpose? So, get in touch with your experienced friends and sort out the priorities.
For example, if you are eyeing the panfish and walleyes, you need to get the rods and reels combo for each of them. If you are willing to make a bigger catch, the rods and reels will be different.
For the novices, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel and Rod Combo available at Amazon is going to be a good option.
The 20-size spinning reel with a single ball bearing and a ported aluminum spool for added durability and light weight will suit them exceptionally well.
Jigs and things
Get ready to become utterly perplexed! Yeah, when you visit any online store or any local store, the choices of jigs will literally lead you in such a state of mind.
If you are not keen on wasting your time reading the reviews, I can help you with the suggestions. Just go for the Celsius EC5C-5A from Amazon.
Celsius features a range of jigs. Most of the jigs are designated for catching panfish, but there are other jigs also with larger hooks which will let you catch a relatively large-sized predatory fish.
You get the convenience of improvising the jigs based on your requirements. The bright and shiny colors will appeal instantly you will get sixteen jigs in total. Some individuals have reported about the paint coming off, but this is very rare. The Celsius EC5C-5A is undoubtedly your best choice.
You should already know this, while ice fishing, the onus is on you to drill the hole. Till date, the augers remain the ultimate tool for achieving this. When you choose an auger for ice fishing, you have to choose between the manual auger, power auger (machine operated), and the electric drills. Ideally, the manual auger is the best for novices.
Usually, only the seasoned campaigners of ice fishing use the power drills. Here are the best augers of both the manual and power auger. The Strike Master Ice Augers Lazer Hand Auger currently available on Amazon is the ideal tool for the beginners of ice fishing.
The auger has soft rubber grips, an adjustable handle and an ergonomic handle for the convenience of the newcomers.
No other ice augers can beat the performance of the Eskimo Mako 43cc Quantum Ice Auger. It has withered the test of time. The 8-inch diameter auger has a right amount of length and easy controls and is powered by an 8000 RPM Viper engine.
Once you get your hands on our recommendations, you probably would not ever look for more options. Regardless of whether you are using a power auger or a manual auger, do evaluate the thickness of ice at first.
Shelters, seriously, do you need them? Yes, you do.
Remember, you are out fishing in icy climatic conditions. You just do not know what the weather has in store for you. Ice fishing can take extended hours; thus a shelter is mandatory.
Again, you have a diverse range of shelters and making the right decision is not easy. However, if you inquire about it from the experienced anglers of ice fishing, most of them will admit, nothing compares to the Eskimo FF949I FatFish Insulated Ice Shelter.
Precisely, the Eskimo insulated ice shelter will offer you the comfort and warmth which you seek in such hostile weather conditions. It weighs only 34lbs; therefore you can carry it easily. It can easily accommodate more than three people; it includes six self-tapping ice anchors, two doors on the opposite sides with zippers, and is completely insulated.
The price is also budget-friendly. Lastly, it also comes with a carry bag which makes it easy to carry.
Depth Finders/Fish Finders
You are going ice fishing after all, so things wouldn’t be that easy like freshwater fishing where you can enjoy the sun and catch fish easily. You can go on digging holes but all in vain.
Thus, the depth/fish finders are indispensable. Here again, you will get lost rummaging the fish finder variants. You have to make a critical choice preliminarily. Are you looking for the perfect fish finders without worrying about the price or is the budget an important criterion. Understandably, you have to make some compromises with the cheaper ones.
At the present day, if you are opting for the best fish finder, then head straight to Amazon and take a look at the features of Marcum LX-7 Ice Fishing System.
The fish finder I am talking about offers you a host of features that include an 8-inch LCD, user-defined view settings, an integrated flasher, and the ability to spot fish within proximity.
Apart from the case, you will rarely find a negative aspect. Ask the importance of flashers in fish finders to any of the experienced anglers. They will swear about its usefulness.
A right flasher is going to illustrate the live pictures of the activities happening in the water column underneath you. It is going to make things incredibly easy for you to locate the fish.
The food for fish! Hopefully, you are not going to forget about it.
So, make sure you stockpile the necessary wax worms, minnows, euro larvae, spikes, and mousies before setting out for ice fishing.
We have now covered all the essential aspects of the things you should have for venturing into ice fishing. The onus entirely rests on you, on how the ice fishing experience is going to be.
When you have made the adequate preparations and followed each and every step mentioned here, you are destined to have a memorable ice fishing experience.
Before we wind up, here is a significant piece of advice:
Do check out the weather forecast well in advance. The combination of the time of the day, light conditions and the weather can affect your fishing experience significantly. The fishing outcomes will differ depending on whether there has been a blizzard, the weather is simply too cold, the fishing location has gusty winds, and the place has a high barometric pressure.
Depending on the type of fish you intend to catch, make use of these weather conditions to perfection.
All the best, for your future ice fishing expeditions.