4 Essential Tips to Optimize Your Ice Fishing Setup

Temperatures are consistently dropping in the Northern tier, so it's time to think about getting together your ice fishing setup.   If you're like me your ice fishing gear has gathered dust since last season.

1.  Ice Fishing Essentials

Clean and relubricate flags and reels on tip ups and reels on jigging rods so that they both spin freely.  Replace tattered flags and line if necessary.  Sharpen your auger blade and if you're using a power auger then give it a tune up with new plugs, and oil and air filter, and oil and fresh gas.  Don't forget your ladle...

2.  Ice Fishing Essentials Redux

Warmth is the name of the game, so give your shanty, lean-to and clothing a careful inspection.  Tune up shanty generators so they throw off power and heat, patch up holes in lean-tos, check out your boots and cleats, and gather your gloves, masks and hats.  Don't forget a new pack or two of handwarmers.  Open one and place it in your t-shirt pocket; by keeping your core warm your extremities stay roasty-toasty, too.

3.  Ice Fishing Equipment

Swing by a baitshop to pick up new ice fishing jigs and to buy new hooks to replace your rusted ones.  Clean your bait bucket.  Charge batteries for all electronics and be sure to download new maps and charts.

4.  Ice Fishing Ice Thickness

Monitor ice thickness before you trot out your shanty.  If it's under 4 inches, stay away.  Four to five inches of new ice is strong enough for foot activities (like ice fishing).  Five to seven inches is fine for an ATV or snowmobile, eight to 12 inches is best for a small vehicle and over 12 inches works for average-sized pickups.  Ice fishing safety is essential, so check for thickness by calling other anglers and cross-reference with measurements from your local baitshop.

Getting your ice fishing setup organized helps make your day fun.  If you've never gone ice fishing before then check out the how to ice fish section before you go.


Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.