How to start Ice Fishing

Some people enjoy it for the solitude of being out on a frozen lake and the challenge of the sport. The majority of people are just looking to get out of the house and spend time with their friends, the fish catches are just the icing on the cake. Learning how to ice fishing also gives you a chance to enjoy time winter fishing with your family and friends.

Safety first

First, let's get the basics out of the way. For all beginers, ice fishing is the practice of fishing through opening in the ice on frozen water. You can fish in many ways, all of which we’ll cover in a little bit.

Before that, let's first introduce some safety precautions. After all, ice fishing does involve standing on frozen water.

Standing on an icy platform, covered with a world of icy cold water, you may feel a little scared. As you should -hypothermia is not something you want to mess with

This is why it is necessary to check whether the ice on which you are standing is thick enough. You can do this by piercing the ice cube with an iron rod or auger. A good rule of thumb is:

  • a minimum of 4 inches for people
  • at least 6 inches for sleds
  • a minimum of 7–12 inches for light cars
  • at least 14–16 inches for full-sized trucks

Always pay attention to rotting ice cubes. You can discover rotting ice through discoloration, cracks, holes, and water flow. Do not fish alone, and bring ropes, blankets, and first aid kits to prevent people from falling into the water.

  • at least 14–16 inches for full-sized trucks

Always be on the lookout for rotten ice. You can spot rotten ice by its discoloration, as well as the cracks, holes, and water flows it has. Never fish alone, and bring along a rope, blankets, and a first-aid kit in case anyone falls in.

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Ice fishing equipment

Fishing on thick ice is important, but it is not the only thing that keeps you from harm. Some safety items will greatly help ensure that your outing is stress-free. These are:

  • metal cleats for traction on the ice
  • an ice spud to check the ice ahead
  • a life vest
  • ice cleats
  • a whistle in case you get into trouble
  • warm layered clothes

There are many other items you can bring, but you should consider these essential items. If you are planning a longer ice fishing trip, please consider using an ice shanty.

ice fishing

Find fishing spot

As with regular fishing, the first thing you need to do is to find the fish. During the early ice time, fish like to feed where they left off just before the water froze. Experienced anglers know this, so they will mark spots on their fish finders before the lake freezes and return after it freezes.


During the middle of winter, fish like to move to deeper waters that are not so cold.

If you are fishing on the lake for the first time, try fishing in the basin or the steepest shoreline you can reach. Larger fish like to move along steep coastlines in search of food, especially in the early morning and close to sunset. For novices, aiming for the fish near the bottom is the safest option. You can also check the local bait and tackle shops for some useful tips.

You need a manual or gas powered auger to drill the hole. Aim for a width of 8-10 inches (wide enough for fish, but too narrow for humans).

After drilling the holes, use an ice skimmer to remove any remaining ice. If you want to move to another place to drill, be sure to mark the previous one to avoid any potential accidents.

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Ice fishing gears

So far, you have seen that ice fishing is very different from conventional fishing. This is why some of the equipment you need will be different. The following are your ice fishing gear essentials:

  • Small jigging rod
  • Spring Bobber
  • Leader
  • Hooks
  • Lures
  • Jigs
  • Tip-up (typically replaces the jigging rod, but can be used in conjunction)

We have summarized all of this for you in one picture so that you can easily prepare for your next ice fishing trip.

ice fishing