BlogJanuary 2020

5 Tips for Ice Fishing with Kids

5 Tips for Ice Fishing with Kids

By Andy Whitcomb

Jan 14, 2020

Here are several ways to help make ice fishing with kids a success.

Fishing with kids can be extremely rewarding. Helping them experience the thrill of a hook up usually is more exciting than you catching a fish yourself. However, fishing, especially ice fishing with kids is a thorough test of your amateur guiding skills. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when taking the entire family ice fishing.

1. Find Safe Ice

The first component of any ice fishing trip is safe ice. 5 inches is a commonly recommended thickness. You can check with other ice fishermen who have already been out, but always verify by drilling a test hole before you venture very far away from shore.

2. Wear Ice Traction Cleats

If ice is thick enough, to help everyone get around, invest in slip-on ice traction cleats. If there is some snow cover, the heavy tread of most insolated boots may be enough but additional cleats can be a boost of confidence during a time when a slip can promptly end any outing involving ice fishing with kids.

3. Be selective when you venture out

Sometimes, it may just be too cold, especially for kids. However, when you do head to the frozen lake, there is an old adage: “start warm, stay warm.” Kids should dress in layers and be well protected from the cold. Purchase a big pack of those little shake-to-activate hand warmers. Kids love fiddling with them. Closely monitor their warmth. No fishing is worth hypothermia.

4. Think of family ice fishing as day camping

A little tent or hut not only provides protection from wind exposure but it raises the fun level of the whole outing because you are hanging out in a “club house.” Ample snacks and a thermos of hot chocolate are highly advised as well.

5. Bring Bait

Don't forget the bait. When ice fishing with kids, you want to keep the odds in your favor for catching fish and bait is hard to beat. Also, a bucket of minnows or a container of wiggling meal worms can be something else to hold their attention while awaiting a nibble.

Stay safe, stay warm, and keep it short. As the old show biz saying goes, “always leave them wanting more.” Don’t push it, so they’ll want to come back again.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.