Ice fishing equipment. What do I need? Have you ever gone to your favorite lake, during the winter season, just out of curiosity to see how ice fishing is done? If you have, it becomes very clear that equipment plays a very important role just by glancing around at what the anglers have strewn about on the ice.
Buckets, shovels, dippers, tip up's, fishing rods of all sorts, rod holders, hand augers, power augers, sleds, shelters, heaters, electronic equipment, and the list goes on. When you get right down to it, it's not the amount of equipment or how complex or expensive it is that makes an effective ice fishing outfit. The important thing is how the equipment is used, and how it fits the style of the angler using it. Nobody understands that better than the veteran hard water angler, and no two are ever equipped exactly the same. However, one thing we all agree on is that clothing and footwear are the most important things you need, and anyone out on the ice in the wrong attire will pay dearly in discomfort or frostbite.
Probably the most important item is footwear. If you wear inadequate boots with your feet pressed on the ice, they will soon chill. Insulated rubber boots, or pack boots, will separate. Thick felt liners are the best insurance against cold feet. Good ice fishing boots should fit loose enough to accommodate extra socks and allow maximum blood circulation. Insulated hiking, hunting, or work boots won't do the job for most people. Neither will inexpensive nylon or plastic boots lined with synthetic fur. Stay away from gimmicks like battery powered electric socks, which are a great disappointment in cold weather. For most anglers rubber, or rubber-and-leather boots with heavy felt liners, good quality insulated rubber boots designed for extreme cold or government surplus artic boots with air chambers for insulation are best.
Wear several layers of light clothing as compared to one or two bulky garments. The layers trap air for maximum warmth and you can add or remove layers to compensate for the temperature or the activity. Good headgear is important. Up to 75% of the heat lost on a cold day leaves the body from the head and neck. A wool cap or a parka can provide comfort when you feel a chill, and if you are the verge of breaking into a sweat, you can remove your hood to cool off. Comfortable long underwear can be worn against the skin, and insulated coveralls or a snow mobile suit overtop that. Gloves are also needed but will vary accordingly to the individual.
Whatever type of gloves or socks you decide to use, it's a good idea to take a second pair along in case the first pair get wet. Shelters: Even if you are well dressed, some days the cold can be no more than tolerable. But with a shelter, or windbreak of some kind it can be rather enjoyable. The difference between misery and comfort on the rawest of winter days can be just a simple hut or tent. Ice fishing shelters range from simple windscreens improvised from a toboggan or sled, to elaborate shanties complete with walls, roof, heaters, and floors with trap doors for access to the ice. But remember to check with your local Game & Parks department if you plan to leave it unoccupied for a period of time on the ice. You may need a permit.
Dan Nielsen Sr.