If you’re planning an ice fishing trip, be prepared for a fun and exciting adventure that can quickly turn into a nightmare if you aren’t properly prepared. Standard fishing gear isn’t made to offer protection against the freezing wind, ice, and snow.
Having said that, you’re probably wondering what you need to go ice fishing. You’ll need an ice fishing rod, line, and reel, for a successful ice fishing trip. Other essential ice fishing equipment includes ice fishing bait and lures, ice auger, warm ice fishing clothing, ice shanty, and chairs. Safety gear like ice picks and life jackets to keep you safe, just in case.
Keep reading to learn what ice fishing equipment you need to have a successful day on the ice. We’ll also share where you can go ice fishing in the US and helpful ice fishing tips for beginners.
Things You Need for Ice Fishing
Preparing for an ice fishing trip can be challenging because of the amount of equipment you need to bring. Here’s all the ice fishing gear you need to pack to have a productive day on the ice.
Ice Fishing Rod, Line, and Reel
If you’ve been fishing on lakes and rivers, you’re probably used to using longer fishing rods with spinning reels. Although these rods are great for water, ice fishing requires shorter and more compact rods.
Ice fishing rods are 24 to 36 inches long and allow anglers to pull a big fish out of the water without exhausting themselves on the first catch.
Unlike regular fishing line, ice fishing line is more durable and made to thread freezing water and jagged ice. Ice fishing line is braided and treated with anti-freeze compounds, which prevent the line from freezing to the rod.
Ice fishing reels have a smaller winding radius and are more compact than regular reels. Float and centrepin reels are the best choices for ice fishing.
Lures and Baits
The only way you’ll catch fish is with bait, lure, or a combination of both. If you haven’t fished in that location before, decide what type of fish you’ll target and use the bait that the fish prefers.
There is a variety of lures, jigs, and spoons to choose from for the fish species you’re trying to catch.
An ice auger is used to drill holes in the ice. There’s no ice fishing without a hole, so an ice auger should be one of the first things you pack for an ice fishing trip.
Beginners would do fine with a manual ice auger. Motorized ice augers are available as gas and electric models and are better for drilling holes quickly.
Going ice fishing without proper clothing is a recipe for disaster. When shopping for clothes, consider moisture-wicking underwear, a layer of soft wool clothing, and thicker wool on top of that.
A bib, jacket, and a good pair of rubber sole boots are a must. Don’t forget to pack gloves to prevent frostbite.
Although some fishermen prefer to sit on a bucket and brave the freezing conditions, others prefer the warmth offered by an ice shanty. An ice shelter will keep the cold at bay, allowing you to spend more time on the ice.
What Not to Do When Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is one of the fastest-growing areas of fishing. If you’ve decided to try your luck on the ice, you must follow ice fishing etiquette.
Take a look at some things you should never do when ice fishing:
1. Don’t Drill Holes Too Close to Other Anglers
It might be tempting to drill a hole close to a fellow angler, especially if you heard there is a good bite in the area or witnessed someone catch a fish. But, anglers with proper etiquette won’t set up close to the anglers that are already there.
2. Don’t Speed on Ice Roads
Many vehicles go over the ice daily, and the road signs on ice say to slow down for a good reason. Driving too fast over the ice forms a wave of ice that can get out in front of your vehicle. Even if you don’t break the ice, you’re causing damage that can place other anglers in harm’s way.
3. Do Your Best to Release the Fish Quickly
Whether you caught a trophy or small fish, release it back into the water as fast as possible. Even small fish in the water over 30 feet deep have a chance of surviving if they are released back in quickly.
Where Can You Ice Fish in the US?
There are many great ice fishing destinations in the US that will ensure you’re having a great time even during the coldest months of the year. Some of the best ice fishing locations in the country are:
- Devil’s Lake, North Dakota
- Silver Lake, California
- Red Lake, Minnesota
- Lake Gogebic, Michigan
- Lake Champlain, Vermont
- Antero Reservoir, Colorado
- Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
Beginner Tips for Ice Fishing
If you’re new to ice fishing, here are useful tips to ensure a great time on the ice.
- Ice fishing beginners should go on their first ice fishing trip with an experienced friend or a professional guide.
- Take the weather condition into account when shopping for suitable clothing.
- Use a fish finder to assess the situation and find where the fish are.
- Start fishing small and medium-sized fish because there are more of them, and they are easier to find than trophy fish.
- Always think of your safety first. Ice is nothing more than frozen water, and its thickness isn’t uniform across a waterbody you’re fishing on.
Ice fishing is an entertaining and enjoyable activity when you’re properly prepared for it. You’ll need special ice fishing equipment to brave the freezing conditions and catch a fish.
In addition to an ice rod, line, and reel, you’ll need baits or lures and a tackle box to store them. Investing time and money into buying quality and warm ice fishing clothes is the best way to prevent frostbites and hypothermia.