Summer fishing is a fairly common hobby of a strong half of humanity, and many ladies do not neglect it. Equipment for a beginner can be minimal: an ordinary float rod, dough or worms, a chair and a little excitement. In order to purchase everything you need for winter fishing, you need to spend a lot: even high-quality clothing will cost a decent amount, plus special winter fishing rods, an ice screw, and so on. Understandably, ice fishing has fewer followers than free water fishing.
However, you should not deny yourself the pleasure and delay the meeting with your favorite hobby until spring: winter fishing has its own delights. Staying in the fresh frosty air has a positive effect on health, you can get by with the most minimal set of equipment, making something with your own hands or borrowing from friends for a while, and the excitement and joy of a good catch has no seasonality. Let’s figure out together what to wear and take with you on your first ice fishing trip.
Here is an overview of the content of this tutorial, feel free to jump to any section you care about:
- How Do Fish Do In Winter
- How To Choose Bait For Fishing
- How Weather Affects Fishing: All You Need To Know
Clothes and footwear
The most important thing is not to forget about your own comfort and that on the ice, practically without movement, you will have to spend at least a few hours. However, before a period of forced immobility, you will have to drill a certain number of holes, and this implies significant physical exertion. You will not change clothes right on the ice without a vital need for that? This means that clothing should be comfortable, loose, moisture and windproof and heat-saving.
A few tips for beginner anglers:
- The use of grandfather’s sheepskin coats and parental sheepskin coats can be justified solely by a total shortage of funds – they are heavy, hamper movement, do not allow to warm up properly. Modern suits made of synthetic materials are much more practical, and they keep warm just as well. If you are going to spend a lot of time on winter fishing, it is better to purchase a special fishing thermal suit (jacket plus pants), but in the absence of it, you can get by with a ski kit (the second option is worse, because it is designed for high physical activity).
- Do not neglect special thermal underwear designed to wick away excess moisture. It is put on directly on the naked body, otherwise there will be no effect. It is best to use synthetic thermal underwear for minimal to medium physical activity, wearing a layer of any natural fabric (cotton, wool or even rayon) on top. The opposite option also works well: cotton thermal underwear in tandem with a fleece jacket, which is a synthetic material.
- The hands should be kept warm, but at the same time the fingers should be able to perform minimal manipulation. Leather gloves are definitely not suitable, they simply become tanned from water and frost. Knitted gloves are fine, but they get wet instantly. As the best option, you can recommend a combination of knitted gloves (inward) and synthetic mittens on the top. Multi-layer ski gloves are also suitable.
- Knitted hats are not suitable, because they do not retain heat and are blown through by the wind. You can opt for the classic earflaps, and better – made of synthetic materials with high-quality artificial filler and fleece. And don’t forget about protecting your neck!
- Socks. It is best to buy special thermal socks and use them in combination with woolen socks, but if they are not available, you can replace them with cotton socks (also in tandem with woolen ones). A little life hack from experienced winter fishing apologists: put on a cotton sock, wrap your foot in newspaper, put on a woolen sock – and you won’t get cold even in a severe frost.
- Felt boots are the last century, however, like sheepskin coats. Leather shoes are also of little use. Ideally, it would be nice to get special thermal shoes designed for extremely low temperatures, but they are not cheap. In order to save money, at first, you can get by with shoes made of foamed polymers and artificial latex – “foam” boots. Additional insulation can be added with special winter insoles on natural wool and foil.
We figured out the clothing-footwear, we go directly to the fishing arsenal, the main and auxiliary. Here you can give free rein to imagination, read a lot of specialized literature and, without sparing money, buy up half of the range of a fishing store. However, it must be borne in mind that human forces are not unlimited, and all this belongings will have to be dragged on yourself. Even if you are driving a car, you will have to do a decent way with your own legs and doubt the veracity of the saying that your own burden, they say, does not pull.
If you only go on a winter fishing trip for a few hours, try to limit yourself to the most essential gear , including:
- tools for drilling holes;
- the actual tackle (equipped fishing rods, girders, spare equipment – depending on the fishing method);
- bait and lure;
- a fishing box (it can also serve as a chair);
- a spare set of clothes (top – optional, underwear and socks – required);
- thermos with hot tea, sandwiches or other marching food;
- a hand towel (be sure to wipe them dry).
A tent, a heater, a tourist “foam” – all this is optional, but in windy weather and in severe frost it will definitely not hurt, not to mention a multi-day fishing tour.
The most extreme moment of fishing is foreplay, that is, drilling holes. It is good if there are already ready-made holes in the reservoir, drilled by other anglers earlier and only covered with a crust of ice. But usually you have to organize the fishing spot yourself, making holes in the ice with the instrument you took with you. On winter fishing, sometimes you have to punch a dozen holes in search of a catchy place. Let’s go directly to the tools:
- Crowbar with a wooden handle. which is easy to make on your own. Earlier, before the emergence of ice augers, it was the ice pick that was the main “ice-breaking” tool of the fisherman. Now it is used mainly on the first ice, and not only for punching holes, but for testing the thickness and reliability of the ice layer.
- Ice screw . The main tool for drilling holes is an ice screw. There are many models of this tool, including those with electric and gasoline engines. A beginner can get by with an ordinary domestic “Tonar”, optimal in terms of price-quality ratio. True, before using it is better to “tune” a little, that is, to strengthen the tool: to strengthen and adjust the knives, to go by welding on a screw tape. If there is no desire to mess around, but the funds allow, it is better to stop at the brainchilds of Scandinavian manufacturers designed for drilling wet ice – they are, in fact, universal. Don’t forget: always have a spare set of knives with you, just in case!
- Scoop . The ladle, of course, is not intended for drilling ice, but it is impossible to do without it. As a result of work with an ice-drill or an ice screw, a hole is made, but it is filled with a kind of “porridge” consisting of ice fragments.Do not freeze your hands, but you can’t catch porridge – here a voluminous ladle with a long handle will come to the rescue.
Thrifty fishermen make do with buckets and chairs, but this approach can only be justified by the extreme scarcity of the budget. A single fixture, a multifunctional fishing box, can solve a lot of problems. Previously, fishermen made boxes themselves (from plywood, tin and other materials at hand), now in specialized stores they are presented in a mass of variations.
The main requirements for a box for winter fishing are:
- Roominess . In addition to volume, spaciousness also means versatility. In addition to the main tank for fish, there should be an additional tier, divided into sections. There you can lay out all kinds of tackle, spare parts for equipment, baits and baits, as well as a supply of provisions and a change of linen in plastic bags.
- Can be used as a highchair . This implies sufficient strength and stability – the box must support the weight of the angler. In addition, the lid should be equipped with a soft insulated seat, because you will have to sit for several hours.
- Transportability . Modern fishing boxes, manufactured industrially from durable and frost-resistant polymer materials, are lightweight. Additional ease of transportation is provided by a wide strap adjustable in length, which allows the box to be carried over the shoulder.
A winter fishing rod is fundamentally different from a summer one in design and size: a long length is not required here, since the angler is located directly in front of the hole. There are a lot of options for winter rods, but for a beginner it is better to opt for a universal tackle with an open reel and a grasping handle. Alternatively, you can consider the ” palm rod ” favorite by most winter fishing lovers (the handle is a single unit with the reel) or a reelless rod with a “filly” reel. A rod with a reel can be assembled literally on the knee from a whip and a piece of foam.
Most anglers use the so-called “nod” (soft and elastic sensitive tip) as a bite indicator, but there are also float fishing enthusiasts. The thickness of the line and other elements of the rig are selected depending on the type of rod, the type of fishing and the size of the intended prey.
It is advisable to take with you a couple of equipped tackle plus spare leashes, which, in which case, you can simply impose a “loop into a loop”, however, it is better to have separate elements of the equipment in stock too: sinkers, fishing line (main and for the leash), hooks and so on …
At first, you can use a regular plastic bottle with holes equipped with a cable as a feeder. Subsequently, it is better to purchase a special winter feeder of a well-thought-out design, designed to ensure the most simple “charging” in the cold and delivery of food to the bottom.
If you intend to give preference to passive fishing methods, we recommend that you pay attention to the girders. Ready-made supplies can be purchased in the store (if you want to do it yourself), and you don’t need any special art in using them: it is only important to choose the right place, place live bait in the bottom layer of water and respond to the signaling flags in time. Even a trophy pike is caught on the girders , not to mention a smaller predator.
Groundbait and bait
In winter, all fish that do not hibernate switch to a high-protein diet. This means that when preparing for fishing, it is better to give preference to bait of animal origin: bloodworm, maggot, worm, live bait. All this wealth is now easy to buy in the store, and not puzzle over where to get worms and larvae in winter.
Artificial tackle are also used as traditional ice fishing lures: a jig , a winter spoon, a balancer . Any fish that is able to swallow it bites on a jig; on a balancer and a spoon, it is exclusively a predator. However, the use of artificial lures presupposes active play with a rod, which is problematic for a fisherman without experience from the word “absolutely”. For the first time, it is still better to give preference to passive fishing with natural bait.
As bait, you can use a ready-made mixture purchased at the store, but you can prepare it yourself. A mix of oatmeal, oilcakes and bread crumbs with the addition of culinary vanillin demonstrates itself well. If you do not plan to use a feeder, it is better to prepare the mixture in advance with the addition of clay and water, rolling small but weighty balls from it. However, taking into account the winter gastronomic preferences of representatives of freshwater ichthyofauna , it is worth giving preference to baits, which are based on chopped worm, bloodworms, mormysh, mayfly. Predator bait can be flavored with dry blood.
We have already listed the main equipment, but winter fishing is not an easy walk in warm weather, so it will be useful to take care of additional comfort for yourself. You can take with you:
- Backpack . Ideally, a good fishing box will hold everything you need to fish, but if you want to bring something in excess of what you need, a backpack is essential. It is advisable to give preference to models made of waterproof fabrics of non-marking colors. Flap pockets are encouraged.
- Hook . When catching a large specimen in the summer, anglers use a landing net, otherwise a break in the leash is inevitable. You can’t turn around in a hole with a landing net, but there is no need to move the fish horizontally. In this case, a hook comes to the rescue of the fisherman, with which the fish is hooked under the gills. Now on the market there are convenient compact models with telescopic handles that do not take up much space in the equipment.
- Tent . No tent without additional heating will not protect you from severe frost, but from the wind it is easy, namely it delivers maximum discomfort in an open space. Frame models are characterized by the greatest strength, but their unfolding and dismantling takes a lot of time. The most relevant and comfortable to use are automatic tents, the cheapest are dome tents.
- Heater . The most popular among those who love winter fishing are gas heaters equipped with cylinders, tiles or air heaters. But there are models that run on alternative fuels.
- Tourist “foam” (rug) . The greatest invention of mankind is tourist foam: lightweight, excellent insulating, waterproof. You can find a place for her, even going on a fishing trip on foot, but do not freeze the most important parts of the body while sitting right on the ice.
- Echo sounder . An echo sounder is vital to find places where fish accumulate, because every drilled hole is a waste of time and effort. In this case, there is no need for modern remote models with sophisticated electronic stuffing, just a good old wired echo sounder.
Tips for beginner ice fishing enthusiasts
Summing up the above, I would like to give some advice to novice anglers:
- Going fishing, study the rules of safe behavior on the ice: maybe it will save your life. Avoid snowy areas, bald patches where the ice is darker, and other questionable areas. Remember: you cannot run on crumbling ice – you need to move on the ice as carefully as possible. Ideally, to test the reliability of the ice cover, you should always check it with a foot.
- In the fresh air, a brutal appetite always wakes up, so you need to have something convenient to eat in field conditions with you (sandwiches, chips, nuts). A thermos with hot tea is also indispensable. But you should not take alcohol with you: it gives only the illusion of warmth, only contributing to the speedy freezing.
- Winter fishing requires numerous and varied equipment, but do not go to extremes: the necessary minimum should be available in any case, but you should not overload yourself either. However, life will make adjustments: by the second or third fishing trip, you will clearly know what you need for productive fishing and your own comfort.
We hope our tips will help you make your first ice fishing trip a truly memorable experience. Rich catch, hobby colleagues!