Is ice fishing all about the gear? Well…kind of. Ice fishing conditions are unique among other outdoor activities. You’re subject to wind, freezing temperatures, and ice-cold water. You’re often kneeling in frozen slush, your hands are constantly wet, and above all, you’re trying to stay warm so you can get a full day of fishing in.
So why do people do it? Because, as the Women On Ice say, “you never know what’s going to happen.” At any moment someone could beat their personal record, or catch a species of fish they’ve never caught before. It’s a blast. We had a chance to spend some time with the Women On Ice, an all-women ice angling team based in Minnesota, and learned more about ice fishing gear and angling techniques in one afternoon than we ever thought possible. We highly recommend checking out their Facebook page.
The Women on Ice slept on the lake for four nights, which presented all sorts of unique challenges. Here’s the gear they used to stay comfortable, prepare epic meals, and above all, catch fish!
GCI Outdoor added the Kickback Rocker to their lineup this year, which worked well as an ice fishing chair. It’s a little lower than other models, which made it easier to switch bait and tend to the hole. It folds up small and uses a peg closure system vs. a bag, making it easy to set up when scouting for a fishing spot.
We can’t think of a more ideal firepit for ice fishing. The heat shield eliminates the possibility of melting snow, and the total weight is just under six pounds. It sets up in a minute and easily handled roaring bonfires all night long.
Sleeping on the ice for four days meant a LOT of things needed power. From electric ice augers to camera gear, we had to keep the show running. The Briggs & Stratton got it done easily with power to spare. The electric start is an especially handy feature.
It’s important to have variety of presentations because you never know what they’re going to hit. The Glyde Jig has gliding motion on the fall and acts erratically when snapped upwards. One of the Women On Ice gave it a shot when we were filming and caught two bluegills in a few minutes. Not too shabby.
If two people are sleeping in a pop-up fishing shelter, a bunk bed cot is the only way to go. The Disc-O-Bed XL was perfect for this setup. It allowed two people to get a good night’s sleep and left enough room for angling in front of the bunks.
Sleeping overnight on the ice tends to get a little chilly, so a solid zero bag is a must. The Ascend Hex features a full length draft tube and a chest baffle to lock in heat. The offset seams help to eliminate cold spots, and bonus – it actually fits into it’s stuff sack.
This flannel-lined Mountain Trapper Zero Bag truly brought the comfort of home to the ice. At just over 8 pounds, it’s a car campers dream. The flannel lining is cozy and the canvas shell with water repellent finish made it perfect for several nights on the ice.
Running across the ice in the middle of the night to check tip-ups is a lot easier with a good headlamp! The Princeton Tec Byte is small, making it comfortable to wear over a stocking hat. The 100-hour burn time on low easily lasted for several days of night fishing.
Standing on the ice all day requires a warm, rugged boot, and the Artic Ice Extreme from Muck got it done. The Vibram sole is specially formulated to provide maximum grip on ice, and the slip-on style is great for quick runs to the tip-ups at night.
When you’re using propane heaters in a pop-up ice fishing shelter safety is the number one priority. Even though the heaters have CO2 shut off features, you should have a backup. Every shelter also had an additional carbon monoxide detector to ensure a safe night’s sleep.
This is one clever little lantern. The adjustable legs make it easy to hang in multiple positions, as well as functioning as a table lantern. The Bluetooth feature makes it easy to turn off and on from bed, and it compresses for easy storage.
You’re not going to last more than a night on the ice if you don’t have a comfortable home away from home. The CLAM Thermal X-600 retains heat, and has an optional floor that attaches to the sides. Add a few rugs and you’ve basically got an efficiency apartment that you never want to leave.
You can never be too safe on the ice, which makes the CLAM Rise Float Bibs and CLAM Rise Float Jacket a smart choice. It’s something you never want to rely on, but if it happens the extra buoyancy will save your life. They’re warm as can be, and the waterproof phone pocket is a nice bonus.
We’ve all used em’ and we all love em’. Mr. Heater has been around forever, and they’re probably the number one thing that makes an afternoon of ice fishing truly comfortable. No matter how cold you get out on the ice, you can always hop in the shelter and fire this little guy up. They’re the best.
When you’re ice fishing your hands go from wet to dry all day long. The Fish Monkey Wooly Gloves are great because wool insulates even when it becomes damp. The studded synthetic leather also provides a great grip for angling.