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Ice Fishing 101: What You Need to Know Before You Go
By Runnings
1/20/2017 12:00:00 AM
Man ice fishing with large fish under ice

There’s a saying that there’s not much use in fishing when the fish aren’t biting. Many think that fish don’t bite during the winter, but skilled ice fisher-men and -women continue to prove otherwise. 

Ice Fishing Whale

Surprisingly, many avid anglers have never made the jump from open water fishing during warmer weather to ice fishing. Ice fishing is a fun sport that teaches patience and, when done right, is a safe and fun way to enjoy the great outdoors in the dead of winter. Oh, and did we mention fresh caught fish in the fridge for dinner?

If you think you might get hooked on ice fishing, your Runnings store has everything you need for a safe and successful trip out onto the ice this winter. Here’s our introductory guide to the sport of ice fishing - What you need to know before you go:

Safety first. Ice fishing is a perfectly safe sport when done correctly. That means staying off ice that isn’t at least four inches thick. Anglers should also beware of rotten ice in the spring that is more likely to crack. Remember this good rule of thumb for determining whether or not it’s safe to venture out onto a lake- “Thick and blue, tried and true. Thin and crispy, way too risky.” Another key risk out on the ice is dehydration- make sure to pack plenty of fluids, both warm and cold! May we suggest our line of Yeti products?

Dress appropriately. The right gear makes all the difference in staying comfortable while ice fishing. It’s important to remember to dress in layers and start with a warm, moisture-wicking base layer that will keep you dry at all times. Sweaty clothes get cold quickly, so staying dry is half the battle! Also, don’t settle for a wool coat- the wind on a lake is likely to cut right through it. Instead, opt for an IceArmor™ by Clam™ Extreme™ Weather Parka from Runnings- these coats are designed to stop the wind in its tracks and keep you warm all day long and include a rapid drainage system for extra safety.  Matching Extreme™ Weather Bibs will keep your legs warm and dry when drilling holes.

When it comes to footwear, grab yourself a pair of good muck boots like these Arctic Sport Extreme Conditions Sport Boots from Runnings. Your feet are going to be on the ice for hours at a time, so they’re the most vulnerable to the cold. Be sure to insulate your feet with thick, warm socks like these Wigwam® 40° Below™ Heavyweight Sock that will keep your feet both warm and dry on your ice fishing adventures.

Take shelter. While some folks prefer to fish out in the open air, many opt for the comfort of portable shelters, known as shanties. You’ll know when the fishing’s good as “shanty towns” will pop up all over the ice. We recommend grabbing a Clam™ Vista™ Ice Shelter to get in out of the wind for prolonged fun on the ice.

Bring the right gear. Before you trek out on the lake, you’ll want to make sure that you’re properly equipped. Here’s a quick checklist of gear to grab ahead of your ice fishing expedition:

  • A sled- because carrying your gear out without one would be plain silly. Check out Runnings’ wide selection of sleds for ice fishing here.

  • An ice auger- you’ll need one of these to drill your fishing hole into the ice. An Eskimo® Dual -Flat Blade Hand Auger will do nicely, but if you’re looking for a shortcut try the Jiffy® Ice Drills 4G™ Gas Powered Ice Drill. That bad boy offers fast, reliable drilling to get you fishing faster.

  • A rod and reel- How else did you think you were going to catch any fish? This certainly isn’t the weather to dangle your hand in the water like this guy!
    Ice Fishing by Hand
    Your friends over at The Run Down recommend a 13 Fishing Whiteout Ice Combo like this one.

  • Extra fishing line- There’s nothing worse than getting all the way out to the middle of the lake with all your gear and then realizing that you don’t have enough line. Stock up on your next visit to Runnings- we’ll hook you up! (Get it? “hook you up” …. ok never mind…)

  • A seat- You really don’t need anything fancy here- a Runnings 5 gallon bucket and this Padded Bucket™ Seat from HT Enterprises Inc™ will do the trick.

  • Tackle- You never know what the fish will be biting when you trek out to ice fish, so it’s a good idea to bring a variety of lures with you to ensure more success on the ice. Runnings has a great selection of ice fishing lures, regardless of whether you’re starting from scratch or just adding to your collection.

  • A bait bucket and dip net- If live bait is more your style, be sure to pick up a StrikeMaster® Bait Bucket. It’s insulated and includes a splash proof lid, making it perfect for ice fishing.

  • A fish finder- Of course, it always helps to know where the fish are. Enter the Vexilar® FL-8SE Genz Pack. This fish finder was designed by Dave Genz, a legendary ice fisherman. Its heavy-duty design will hold up through years of fun, wear, and tear out on the ice.

Ready to get out on the ice? Be sure to check your local regulations to verify any restrictions, permits needed, and daily limits as well as size minimums! Good luck on the ice this winter!

Tags: Ice, Fishing
Categories: Know How


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