Staying Warm While Ice Fishing
When you’re out on the ice in the dead of winter, staving off frostbite can be a big challenge. No matter how heavy your coat and your gloves, the freezing winds and lack of any reprieve can lead to problems fast — not to mention the prospect of bringing home a frozen fish.
We’ve assembled a handy guide to tools that will help you stay warm when you’re ice fishing — without melting the ice and leaving you in the soup.
Coats And Heating Pads
The most basic ice fishing warmth rig is heavy clothing, a heavy coat, and heating pads. This method is convenient because nearly all fishermen have access to the necessary pieces.
Unfortunately, wearing a coat and putting on some heating pads will leave you cold and uncomfortable a lot of the time. You’ll be sweating more than you’d expect as a result of the heating pads, and if you aren’t careful, you can end up colder than when you started as a result.
Likewise, your best coats might not be enough to keep you warm on a freezing cold night. Especially if you’re interested in hunting the fish that only come out during the wee hours, the long time spent sitting still will require more than merely a coat.
Tents are a common option used by ice fishermen because they’re light weight and don’t interrupt your ability to tug on the line once in a while to keep the fish interested.
With a tent, you can also get some protection from the wind and the sun. This makes them relatively inexpensive yet also indispensable for ice fishers. Especially when you are going fishing with a group of people, having a tent can be a life saver.
The main drawback to tents is that nicer tents can be very expensive.
When the ice is super thick, you may be able to bring your truck or ATV onto the ice and camp out of it. While this is extremely dangerous on most lakes, on the lakes where it can work, you will find that it provides a high level of comfort.
You will also find that you can’t keep the vehicle’s engine running for very long without fear of melting the ice, however.
So, if you decide to use your vehicle to camp, you will need to keep it turned off. You may also want to limit your time inside the vehicle because it will be hard to manage your lures while you are inside.
Ice shanties are the ideal shelter for ice fishers because they’re made specifically for the purpose of keeping you warm without getting in the way of fishing.
An ice shanty is a small shelter which you can deploy directly on top of the hole that you’ve created in the ice. This means that you do all of your fishing from the comfort of the shanty.
Shanties can be either deluxe — with built-in heaters and shelves — or minimal. Most ice shanties are inexpensive, but they’re not very easy to deploy. This means that if you opt for an ice shanty, you might want to leave it over your ice hole and come back to fish there again.
If you plan on doing a lot of ice fishing from the same lake, an ice shanty is the best possible choice for staying warm. Ice shanties are generally more comfortable than tents, more lightweight than a vehicle, and far warmer than a coat.
The only real downside of the ice shanty is that it can be hard to move. If you get a deluxe ice shanty, you can expect to do all your ice fishing in total comfort. Many ice fishermen have customized their shanty to have heat, power, and even electronic entertainment.
You don’t have to go that far with your ice shanty, of course. A simple shack with a heater and a chair will be more than enough to let you benefit from the shanty while maintaining your ability to fish.