ice fishing trip

Checklist for your Ice Fishing Trip

If you know what I need it to do, do you know a better way to do it?

Cold weather and winter don’t stop a good fisherman from enjoying his favorite activity. The colder weather just requires some extra preparation and resources for fishing. Here are the main things you should check off your list to have a great time on the ice.

Ice Fishing Trip Checklist

Ice Integrity

Before you step onto the ice and try ice fishing, you should be sure that the ice is thick enough and supports your weight – because safety comes first. You can use some kind of a longer tool to check it safely.

Bring a Friend

If able, you should always fish with a companion, so that a helping hand is available in case of an emergency. Having a friend tag along can also be very useful to prevent boredom while waiting for the fish to bite.

Fishing Rod

The equipment needed for ice fishing differs from conventional fishing equipment especially in the length and range of the rod. While an ordinary fishing rod can be used for ice fishing, it is always better to have a rod designed for this activity. Shorter rods are particularly useful for ice fishing. They should also be made of special materials that won’t freeze in the cold temperatures.

Ice Drill

You also need a special ice drill to make a hole in the ice. These drills are available in two versions: motor or hand-operated. If the ice is very thin, you can also carefully pierce it with an ice axe. However, this is much more dangerous because unwanted cracks provoke the stability of the entire ice sheet.

Ice hooks and Rope for Emergencies

You should also carry two special spikes or ice hooks with you, which are connected with a rope and worn around your neck. If you break the ice and fall in, you can put a hook on the edge of the ice and climb out of the water with the rope.

How to dress

Of course, in addition to the fishing gear, you should not forget to dress functional and warm. One word is important here: layered. In case you might need to travel a longer distance from the car to the fishing spot, you need to able to take off one layer of clothing and put it in your backpack. By the time you reach your destination, you will warm up, and you might need to put a layer of clothing back on or you could catch a cold.

Waterproof Shoes

Your footwear needs to be waterproof and slightly larger so that you might wear more than one pair of socks for cold protection if needed. Often there is some slush between the top layer of ice and the snow above. Especially on warm days, the snow from the top layer melts and there is even more slush. Then the feet stay reasonably warm with good shoes.


The jacket you wear should primarily be warm and protect against the wind. It should also be waterproof to protect you against the snow and cold water.


It is advisable to have a few thinner gloves that you can put on when fishing when it is too cold. Cold fingers are best warmed up in a few additional mittens.

Ice Sled

A sled can serve as a seating space or you can use it to transport your equipment. Also, if you need to climb down some slopes, it can be more effective and fun to slide down on your sled.

Snow Shovel

You can use it to shovel the snow that may be on the ice before drilling. Before packing, find out what the snow conditions are like on the lake so that you don’t take the shovel with you unnecessarily. An avalanche board is sufficient, can be folded up and is relatively light.

Food and Beverages

It is advisable to take enough beverages with you (e.g. hot tea). Drilling ice holes causes hunger and there should also be a refreshing snack to carry you through the work.

Sun Protection

Since snow and ice reflect sunlight and UV radiation, sun protection (sunscreen, glasses and a hat) can be important. People often make the mistake of thinking they can’t get sunburnt in the cold weather.

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