Outdoor Sports

What you need to know about ice fishing

There's no need to hide inside all winter long dreaming about the warm summer months when you can ice fish in the great outdoors! Just make sure you know the basics first and follow all the safety precautions outlined here.

Equipment and shelter

Before you hit the ice, you will need the proper equipment and gear:

1. Auger

2. Slush scoop

3. Ice fishing specific rods, reels, and lines

4. Tip ups with line

5. Tackle

6. Bait bucket

7. Safety picks

8. Warm clothing

9. Needle-nose pliers

In order to drill holes into the ice for fishing, you will need an auger. A manual auger will work; however, a power auger is more efficient and will make your life much easier.

Ice fishing can be done at any time of day, but is typically done most around dusk and dawn. Different fish are active at different times of day, so the time of day you will be out on the ice will depend entirely on the type of fish you want to catch.

Longer fishing expeditions will requite an ice shanty, or a shelter that will shield ice fishermen from the weather conditions. Ice shanties are towed onto a lake using a vehicle such as a snowmobile, ATV or truck. The two most commonly used types are portable and permanent. The portable houses are often made of a heavy material that is usually watertight, whereas permanent shelters are made of wood or metal and usually have wheels for easy transport. They can be as basic as a bunk heater and holes or have satellite television, bathrooms, stoves, full-size beds and may appear to be more like a mobile home than a fishing house.


First and foremost, it is important to know that new ice is stronger than old ice. As time passes, ice crystals decay even if the temperature is well below freezing. Ice fishermen should especially be wary of venturing onto a frozen lake in the spring, as this is when the ice will be at its weakest point.

There are many visual cues that can help to determine whether or not it's safe to step out onto the ice, but the most effective method is measuring the ice. You can do this by using an ice chisel, which you stab into the ice until it penetrates through entirely. You can determine the thickness of the ice by how far the rod went into the ice. Also, you can use an ice auger to drill a hole through the ice and measure the depth using a measuring tape.

You should never go out on ice that is less than 3 inches thick. 4 inches can support activities like ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and skating. 5 inches can support a snowmobile and 8 inches of ice is enough to support a car.

It's also important to consider the color of the color of the ice. Clear, blue, or green ice is usually thick enough to skate on, but beware of white ice. If the ice is white, that means there is air or snow trapped inside, which will weaken the ice. Dark ice should also be avoided.

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