First-time Ice Fishing Tips

Doug Williams

Ever wondered why people sit on the ice with a little hole in front of them, staring at their fishing line, or the hole to see if they’ve got a bite?

I bet some fo you think it’s insane… But it’s not. Ice fishing is a great activity for all the family. It can make it as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, which is great when you’ve got to watch those pennies, or you’ve got some cash to splash!

Have a kid who wants to try it but don’t want to break the bank? Ice fishing is perfect for that. Ice fishing is a sport that will allow you to meet new people and share your fishing stories with some of the friendliest people in the world.


If you’re a beginner and don’t know where to start, here are some tips that will allow you to have a great, successful first-time fishing trip.

First things first – it’s all about the right kind of gear. If you want to test out the sport with the smallest amount of gear, ice fishing allows you to do so. The most expensive thing on the list will most likely be an ice augur; you can’t ice fish unless you get one of these. This is what you need in order to drill your hole into the ice to begin fishing.

If it’s your first time, you can always try a hand drill, which is the most inexpensive drill out there. If you’d like to splurge and buy a larger one, they come in all different shapes and sizes and prices. The hole you drill should be six or eight inches across.

For those who are going to try jigging, try to find a rod and reel combination made especially for ice-fishing. The best one you could find is a stiffer rod with an eight-pound line. This will allow you to catch larger fish like trout, walleye, and more!

Depending on which state or country you’re in, the lakes may have a limit on how many lines you can put out or how many fish you’re allowed to keep. For example, if you’re going to jig with one line you might want to put out a tip up in another hole.


Other items you’ll need to complete your fishing list would include: an ice scoop to skim away the excess ice from your drilling, minnows for bait, a rod holder when you need a break from jigging, and food and drinks.

The next thing on your list is optional. Some fishers prefer to use lures, but it seems live bait like minnows works the best. The minnow is still alive when you put it on your hook, making it look more natural to the fish in the water. Though you will probably have more luck by simply using the minnows, some fishers swear by artificial lures.

If you’re going to try to make a day out of it, clothing is key. You will want snow pants, a wind jacket, and good, solid rubber boots to stay comfortable. However, it also matters what is under the snow pants and jacket as well. Dress in layers! You can never go wrong with too many layers. It’s better to be too hot and take off the layers rather than being too cold and needing to cut your day short.

Make sure you have moisture-wicking materials – in case you either sweat or get wet, they will decrease your chances of hypothermia. Feet and hand warmers are cheap and work great for the day, too. Make sure to cover your ears and face, especially if it happens to be a windier day. Layer your socks and gloves, as well.

Shelter is another thing to think about. Again, if you’re a beginner, or if you have kids along, the shelter is something you may want to invest in. It doesn’t have to be expensive; they sell small tents that will at least keep the wind away. Keep in mind that you can always purchase a nicer shack if you end up liking ice fishing.

The nice thing about ice shacks is that many of them come with some kind of heater. This is something to consider if you become an all-day fisher. You’ll need a couple of breaks from the cold at some point in order to avoid hypothermia. Take into consideration the lake’s rules about ice shacks and when they need to be off the ice at the end of the season.

Once you’re dressed and ready, make sure to test the ice before stepping out onto it. Be sure that the ice is at least four inches thick before walking out. However, the farther you get onto the ice, keep checking the thickness. While it may be thick enough in one area, it may not be thick enough in another. If you want to check out the thickness before making the commitment that day, ask local tackle stores or the fishermen who have been on the ice already.

To save time, be sure to find an area where there are many ice shacks. This most likely means there are a lot of fish in that particular area. However, make sure to keep a little distance from the rest of the fishermen, Cottage Life reported.

Next, you’re ready to drill your holes. Be careful with the blades of your drill as they’re extremely sharp. Make sure to press down enough to get some good pressure on the ice and start drilling. The ice will start to grind, that will ensure you’re doing it correctly.

You’re ready to fish and meet new people on the ice!


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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival