Back in the day, some people didn’t go ice-fishing because they didn’t like to be cold. While that may have been a valid excuse then, now there is no need to avoid ice-fishing due to the cold. We have all sorts of clothing and equipment that will enable us to stay comfortable on the ice.
It is important to keep in mind that we want to stay comfortable, but not too warm. Too warm is just as bad as too cold, because if you get too warm you’ll start sweating, and sweating will make you cold, and then there goes the fun.
For some ice anglers, an ice house is an answer for staying warm. I fish out of an Ice Castle sometimes: They’re outstanding. You fish in jeans and a sweatshirt and stay very comfortable.
Other ice anglers prefer to fish from a portable shelter, and again, with a small heater, they stay warm even when it’s very cold outside.
Then there are those who like to sit on a bucket when they’re ice-fishing. Those are the folks who need to dress properly so they enjoy their time on the ice in comfort, but not excessive warmth.
Start with your feet. If your feet get cold, you’re cold all over. Fortunately, there are plenty of boots that do a great job. The warmest boots are usually a little heavier in weight. Boots are an individual thing. We need to decide how much warmth we want and how heavy of a boot we’re willing to wear. Cabela’s Inferno boot provides lots of warmth but isn’t too heavy. It does an outstanding job in many situations.
The layer of clothing we wear next to our skin is very important. Select an undergarment that allows sweat to wick away from your body. Sweat that gets trapped next to your body will make you cold.
Many favor a hooded sweatshirt as the next layer of clothing, then maybe a vest, then an outer jacket that isn’t too heavy or bulky. When it’s very cold, I really like my Cabela’s Fleece Parka. I prefer the parka length, it covers me better, and I really like the fleece. It’s so soft and comfortable and quiet.
When it’s not so cold, Guidewear does a good job. I especially like Guidewear bibs, as they enable me to kneel down on the ice to land larger fish. The reinforced knees don’t let the water or slush seep through to my jeans. Again, we want to keep water away from our skin, because that’s how we get cold.
Last piece of clothing advice: Keep your head warm. For me, that means a real stocking cap that has some mass to it. Those modern beanie stocking caps that are so popular don’t do a very good job of keeping some of us warm, and they don’t stay on some of our heads very well. Traditional stocking caps are still the choice of many.
Ice fishing is fun, and it’s even more fun when you’re comfortable. Keep these clothing tips in mind and you’ll stay comfortable. Not too warm, not too cold, just right.
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PHOTO CAPTION—Our fishing friend Duane Peterson with a nice perch and a fleece outer. Stay warm on the ice and you’ll catch more fish because you’ll be able to fish longer.
Fishing the Midwest
By Bob Jensen