5 Ice Fishing Tools to Help Reel in the Winter Catch
Every experienced outdoorsman knows that just because it's winter, it doesn't mean you can't still go fishing. You may not get to take your friends on a boat trip, but you can still bro out (and, yes, women can bro out, too) with your pals.
In addition to standard fishing and cold weather gear, you’ll need a few specialized items to deal with the cold and the ice. The tools listed below should help keep you warm, cut through the ice and haul in a fine winter catch. Always check with knowledgeable locals beforehand about the condition and thickness of the ice you'll claim as your own.
In general, ice fishing rods and reels are shorter and thicker than normal rods and reels. You don’t need all that extra length and flexibility, because you won’t be casting out into the distance. You’ll be dropping your line down a small hole in the ice.
Everyone who fishes needs a tackle box. Besides the typical gear you’d take along on a normal fishing trip, you might want to include some lures that glow in the dark -- FYI, night falls early in the winter -- heavy line, and a durable net, to save your hands from a dip in the icy water. If you have a bait bucket, a small net to retrieve your bait is a good idea, too.
Hate to break this to you, but you’re going to have to cut through the ice. Sorry, there’s simply no way around it. A chisel is great for breaking up thin ice near the shore. A saw will help you cut through thicker ice, and an ice auger will drill through some of the deepest ice out there. An ice skimmer is also a handy tool to have around, to remove slush from near your fishing hole.
A portable fish shanty is a wonderful place to keep warm and store your gear while you wait for the fish to bite. Short of a shelter, chemical heat bags for your hands and feet will help keep some of the freeze away. Be sure you have something to sit on as well, like a foldable chair or a large bucket. You never want to plant your posterior down on the cold ice.
Ice cleats, strapped onto the bottom of your boots, will let you to move about the ice with a measure of grace. While slipping and sliding might be funny to onlookers, it’s not very fun when you fall on the ice. Steady footing also affords you an extra measure of safety, allowing you to focus on reeling in the fish.