The following ice fishing tips can help improve your winter fishing game. Just because waters have frozen over doesn’t mean you must ignore your craving for fresh fish all winter. If you’re anything like us, the literal need to go fishing is often stronger than the desire to eat it. Ice fishing was developed many years ago by humans trying to survive harsh winters. To this day it remains a popular sport around the world. Read on to learn ice fishing tips the pros use to catch more fish while having fun and staying safe.
Ice Fishing Tip #1: How to Know if the Ice is Safe
Clear ice = the strongest ice. But, no matter how clear ice looks, you should always take the time to measure its thickness even if it is measured and monitored on a regular basis by a local resort or other entity.
The best time to go ice fishing is right after water freezes because oxygen levels remain high and fish are active. The other ideal time is right before the ice melts and releases a bunch of trapped fish. While these two times offer the best chance at getting lucky, they can be the most dangerous times to go out on the ice. That’s why it’s so important to test the thickness and stability of ice before going out.
How to test the thickness of ice:
- Create a hole in the ice using a cordless drill, ice auger, and/or ice chisel.
- After drilling the hole, insert a ruler to measure how thick the ice is from the top of ice to the start of liquid.
Thickness of ice for ice fishing guidelines:
Clear ice that measures at least 2.5 inches may be safe to walk on but, keep in mind, the ice must support you and any sports shelter or equipment you bring along. That’s partly why the recommended depth for ice fishing is closer to 4-6 inches.
- Ice should measure at least 5 to 7-inches to support the weight of an ATC or snowmobile.
- 8 to 12-inches is the recommended guideline for ice that can support a small car or pickup truck.
- Ice must measure 12 to 15-inches to safely navigate across with a medium-sized truck.
Ice Fishing Tip #2: Drilling the Ideal Hole
The best ice fishing hole measures around 6 to 8-inches in diameter. Larger holes present greater safety risks and make it easier for someone to fall inside. An auger, spud bar or drill can be used to make a sufficient hole. Keep an ice chisel or similar tool handy to remove any slush or ice that starts to crowd the hole as you fish.
Ice Fishing Tip #3: Bring a Snatch Block + Other Recovery Tools
A snatch block can save your ice fishing adventure from catastrophe by offering the strength necessary to clear obstacles, such as a tree blocking your path. It can also help pull a stuck vehicle to safety. Made for some of the toughest conditions known to man, Vault Cargo’s 8 Ton Snatch Block is made especially for hardcore adventurers who enjoy the great big outdoors all year long.
This surprisingly affordable Snatch Block doubles winch pulling capacity while adding life to your winch and cables. It’s the perfect accessory for vehicle recovery kits, as well as navigating tight spaces on your way to ice fishing, or wherever the wild roads may take you.
Ice Fishing Tip #4: Safely Park Cars and SUVs on Ice
All cars, pickup trucks or SUVs on ice should always be parked at least 50-feet away from any other vehicles. All vehicles should be moved once every two hours to reduce the risk of sinking. To test ice stability, drill a hole next to your vehicle. If you notice water flowing out of the hole, the ice is sinking and the vehicle must be moved right away.
Ice Fishing Tip #5: Bring the Right Tools
So, what kind of gear do you need for ice fishing? Aside from the usual bait, lures, buckets and a fishing license, you’ll need a compass, flashlight, propane heater, sled, shelter and a chair of some type to sit on. You may also need a spud bar or some other tool to check ice thickness, such as an auger, or a drill and ruler can work as well. You may also need a skimmer to move slush out of your fishing hole, as well as a gaff hook to tug fish through the hole.
Tough guys and gals may sit directly on the ice, while others prefer to cozy up in heated shelters for warmth and protection. Some heated ice fishing enclosures are packed with more amenities than others, granting a lot of options at different price points and weights.
Ice Fishing Tip #6: Wear Appropriate Clothing for Ice Fishing
No matter how many ice fishing tips you know and follow, what you wear can make all the difference in your overall experience. Keep in mind how cold it is during the winter, and how much colder it is when you sit still for prolonged periods of time. That’s why you should dress in layers and remember your…
- Winter socks and underwear
- Arctic-weight mittens paired with insulated rubber gloves
- Insulated parka and water-proof snow pants
- Insulated waterproof boots with good traction for walking on slick surfaces like ice
- Hat + face-mask to trap heat