The following 3 items are things that I feel are a MUST for any avid ice angler. With these items you will not only ensure that you return from your ice fishing excursions safely, but they will also keep you comfortable while you are out on the ice and of course make it possible for you to ice more fish! Things such as floatation suit, ice spikes, proper rods/reels, a good selection of tackle and a sharp auger are obvious pieces of equipment, but the following items are things that some anglers choose to neglect.
SPUD – This is a key piece of equipment in my ice fishing arsenal and I NEVER leave the house without it, ESPECIALLY during first ice. Every angler should have a spud with them and should know how to use properly, because it could in fact save your life. It has stopped me from venturing out on unsafe ice many times. I see lots of anglers every year walking out during first ice using the spud like a cane or an arm rest. This is a tool, and in order for it to be useful, you must know how to use it properly! When walking out spud the ice ahead of you HARD! DON’T JUST TAP IT! You have to be sure that the ice is safe, and putting some force behind the hit is the only way to do that. I generally spud every second or third step, stopping often to check the thickness of the ice with either the spud its self or an auger.
QUALITY PAIR OF BOOTS – Your feet are usually the first thing to get cold because they maintain constant contact with the ice. Any experienced ice fisherman will tell you that once your feet get cold, your day is pretty much over. We’ve all been there, trying to tough it out, to the point of having to take breaks and go for a walk just so you can start to feel your toes again. This can all be prevented by purchasing a quality pair of boots. In my opinion, as far as boots go, you get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap pair of boots, don’t expect to stay warm for long. I purchased a pair of Baffin ice fishing boots years ago and my feet never get cold, which lets me spend more time focusing of catching fish and less time taking “warm up walks”. The boots should protect to a minimum of -75C but optimally to -100C, depending on how much time you spend on the ice.
QUALITY ELECTRONICS – A quality flasher, sonar, GPS or underwater camera will no doubt increase your catch rate. My Hummingbird ICE-55 has increased my catch rates two fold because not only am I able to locate the fish, but I can try a number of different presentations and techniques to see what the fish will respond to. By using these electronics to your advantage, you can now move around and find fish instead of waiting for them to come to you. You are missing out on a lot of fish if you are not using this great technology!
Hope these three things can help make your ice fishing this season a little more successful! Be Safe out there and I will see you on the hardwater!