Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve put fingers to keys and gotten an actual blog entry completed, and I am so very sorry for that! I found some inspiration lately, with CFN needing some entries for their website.
Ice fishing is a more difficult technique on it’s on, throw in our record low temperatures of -40*c and lower with wind chill, and you not only have fish that don’t want to bite, but you have a higher risk of hypothermia. To lower the risks of such events, you must make sure that you have all of your cold weather gear in good working order, and you should inspect it before going out each and every time. Here is a basic list of equipment that you should have on you when going ice fishing in the winter (beyond your fishing equipment that is!)
- Hand and foot warmers: These amazing little creations are available at every tackle/bait shop, Wal-Mart, Giant Tiger, and even Dollar Stores across Canada. They may be small, but the amount of warmth given off by those little carbon baggies is amazing.
- Extra gloves: No one likes wet gloves. Many brands, such as Rapala, sell good gloves for the winter especially for handling fish, but even then, they still get wet with all the handling (especially if you are having a good day). Always make sure to have at least 2 pairs of gloves so that if one pair gets wet, your not stuck with frozen fingers or cutting a good day short.
- Long Johns: Even on a warm winter day standing stationary on the ice keeps you exposed to the elements, such as wind, and can cool you down quickly. Making sure that you are wearing good long johns as your base layer with a secondary looser fitting layer to allow loft will keep you warm while out.
- Good Boots: I always recommend a -40 or colder rating on boots if going ice fishing. The rating is for active use, so when you are doing a low activity sport, such as ice fishing, you can cut at least half off of that number. So even though you have a -40 boot, chances are going out and standing on the ice at -20 your feet will still get cold without the blood flow of walking.
- Wool Socks: This goes a lot with the good boots, but wool socks are great for wicking and keeping your feet dry when out on the ice. Cold feet is by far the absolute worst, and you will often find that once your feet are cold, it’s almost impossible to keep your core temperature warm.
- Face Shields: Honestly until last year when I bought my first SA face shield I would just layer on scarves and a hat to cover my face and neck, but I’ve found that this piece of equipment is not only light weight, but easy to breathe in, and with the multiple uses they help from no wind to high wind. I use a non-insulated face shield on warmer days, and a lined one when the wind is high or it’s colder.
Additional clothing and equipment is always at the discretion of each fisher-person, and these are just my basic pieces that I recommend based on our situation in or district. Of course, if you have a heated ice hut, pop up or ect, equipment will vary, as you’ll need to take those into consideration if you need heating sources, etc.
The best part of fishing in the winter though, other than the lack of mosquitoes is the ability to try out those different jigging techniques that you’ve been researching since freeze up started and you don’t want to wait till summer for, and getting that personal best through the ice. Enjoying the quiet on the ice, while the tree’s crack in the cold, and the grey jays wait for a treat, listening to your bells jingle on your rod as you hook that fish is one of the greatest joys of living in Northeastern Ontario.