Unlike most hobbies i know, ice fishing can be very dangerous. You can offset some of those dangers by getting proper gear and learning about every detail in advance. The fact that there are so many so called “ice fishing experts” giving advice doesn’t help. Some of them say that ice needs to be at least 4 inches thick for anglers to safely stand on it, while others are too cautious and say that ice needs to be at least 6 inches thick. Not only that, but there’s also issue of clothing. Most ice fishing happens in late autumn and early winter, which is most unpredictable period of the year. You don’t want to have too much clothes on, because it gets in the way of moving freely, but you also dont want to freeze to death or catch cold. As with anything, finding perfect balance between these two extremes is the key to successfully dressing up for ice fishing. Solution to this problem, in my opinion, is to dress up lightly if you notice that weather is good, but have some warm clothes packed just in case weather gets worse.
This is one of the many concerns you’ll need to address before going ice fishing. Fortunately, most of these concerns are minor and if you’re just an amateur fisherman looking to have a good time, you won’t need to take care of most of them. There are few important and common mistakes that you can and should avoid. First of those mistakes that i would like to talk about today, is lack of safety gear.
Most anglers don’t bother to get even the most basics of safety gear. They think auger and ice fishing rod is all there is to it. It’s true and you can have good time with just those few things, but it will be at the cost of safety. I don’t know about you, but i’d rather pay some extra money if it brings me peace of mind. That’s why i choose to get all the safety gear there is – including ice picks and floater, just in case i happen to fall into ice. There are also special jackets, which i haven’t bought yet, but i’m looking into it. Sure, if you’re just going to try ice fishing one or two times, these seem like waste of money. But if you’re really interested and plan on coming back at least few times a year, it would be wise to invest in proper safety gear. I think ice fishing gloves are especially important. Finding good ice fishing gloves is no easy feat, though. You’ll need help.
While usually it’s the beginners who make first type of mistake, this time i’ll be lecturing experienced ice fishing enthusiasts as well. The mistake i’m talking about is leaving your ice fishing holes as they are after you leave. That is risky because of two reasons – first of all, they are dangerous for snowmobiles, and second of all, by leaving your ice fishing holes exposed, you’re giving other people sign that this is good spot and they should come and fish here. I don’t know about you, but i like to keep the best of my spots secret, so that people don’t come and abuse my spot. Maybe it’s selfish, but i like my spots to be left alone when i’m not around. Maybe it’s because of my ocd.
Speaking of holes, another common mistake most amateur fishermen make is drilling too many holes. Thanks to all kinds of power-augers that are being made these days, drilling lots of holes is easy and takes very little time. But with little research beforehand, you will be able to get all the information you need to know where exactly you should make a hole so that you can use your time more efficiently. You want to be spend most of it actually fishing, not drilling holes.
Another common mistake that is related to drilling holes is the issue of slush. After successfully creating a hole, people usually remove slush to get better view of the water. This is satisfying aesthetically, but in practice, i’d advise against it. I prefer to leave slush as it is, because removing it also removes barrier between sunlight and water. And if there is one thing i know about ice fishing, it’s that extra sunlight is bad because it scares away the prey.
Back to the issue of dressing – another common mistake i notice among beginners is wearing too much clothes. It’s smarter to buy specialized clothes made especially for harsh winter conditions of ice fishing, as compared to just wearing lots of layers of regular clothes. It’s okay if you’re on tight budget, but nothing can beat good old ice fishing clothes and i recommend getting them as soon as you get the chance.