Standing on a frozen lake in brutal temperatures might not seem like fun, but it is when the fish are biting. If you think you need a permanent or towable shanty to fish the coldest days of the year, you’re wrong. Innovations in tackle and gear mean the sport is more accessible and comfortable than ever before. Whether you’re diving into the world of ice fishing, or just trying to combat a serious case of cabin fever, here are a few tips to get you outside—even if it’s 20-below.
Dress For The Occasion
Layering with the right material is the most crucial part of being outside in extreme temperatures. And dressing properly starts at the bottom. A thick base layer that wicks sweat and provides maximum heat retention is a must. Under Armour’s Base 5.0 is about as good as you can get, but you’ll find comparable thermals from Bass Pro and Cabela’s for a few bucks less. From there it’s all common sense. Another layer of thermals, or even two, a mid-layer, and a quality snowsuit will help you endure everything mother nature can dish out.
No part of your body is more prone to the cold than your feet, simply because they’re in direct contact with the ice. Pac boots will suffice, but a super-warm, knee-high, completely waterproof boot like the Cabela’s Stand Hunter 1,600-Gram Boot, designed with extreme cold in mind, is an ideal pick for fishing in bone-chilling conditions. The MuckBoot Arctic Pro is also a solid option. With superior warmth and water resistance, they’ll keep you comfortable on cold, damp days.
Another essential footwear component is a cleat to provide traction on the ice. Rubberized grips that stretch over your boot are one option, but the Korkers’ Extreme Ice Cleat will stay more secure and also provide another barrier between your foot and the frozen water.
Shelter From the Storm
This is where new technology and innovation have really helped fishermen. It’s no longer necessary to construct a permanent or semi-permanent structure to fish the most frigid days. Today’s shelters are lightweight, easy to erect and break down, and are still big enough to accommodate a half-dozen anglers or more. The Cabela’s Six-Person Hub Ice Shelter is a comfortable pick for a day spent fishing the same area.
The ease of transport and set up on the Frabill’s Aegis makes it perfect for hole-hoppers. This model has ample fishing space for two anglers, and is more lightweight than the Cabela’s Six-Person Hub, giving you greater mobility on the ice in conditions where fish are harder to find.
For added comfort, the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is a staple among ice anglers. It runs off a single propane tank, and keeps your shelter warm so you can focus on the fishing.