What to wear on your next ice fishing adventure
Even though I have lived in Nebraska for just over ten years, I have not had the pleasure of partaking in winter ice fishing. I am not all that far from North Dakota and South Dakota and less than a ten hour drive to Minnesota which is home to 10,000 lakes filled with perch, walleye and pike all of which are eager to be caught in the cold winter ice fishing season. You would think with these nearby opportunities, I would have tried the sport by now.
Many things have kept me from the experience of ice fishing: I am pretty busy with the winter season of shows, and I lack a mentor and the great gear to keep warm while ice fishing. This year, I hope to find the time and find a mentor. I have already spent the better part of the weekend researching gear, so I will feel more prepared when the lakes freeze up.
The Right Suit
Layering seems to be the key. It is crucial to keep your core temperature warm. In all of my years of hunting, layering has kept me safe in some pretty brutal temperatures. This year, I had the opportunity to test out the Airblaster Merino Ninja suit. Based on its performance, I believe it will be my base layer for just about anything I do in extreme cold temperatures like hunting, skiing and ice fishing. The suit is a one-piece layer with 55% Merino, 37% Tencel, and 8% Spandex. It dries twice as fast as Merino alone which allows it to wick away moisture quickly. Airblaster also has some great outer layers purpose-built for skiing, snowboarding and sledding in extreme conditions.
Waterproof coveralls were the next recommended item on the list Ice fishing requires a lot of time with your knees on the ice so finding the right pair of coveralls provides a serious barrier between the ice and your body. This keeps the cold and moisture away from your body. Quality jackets should also be waterproof. This is easier to do as jackets have evolved tremendously over the past decade.
The Right Boots
Aside from our hands, our feet is one body part that we must keep warm at all times. Of course you want to keep your feet warm with boots. Wearing the right boots can make all the difference when you are ice fishing. Our friends over at USAngler have created a pretty good guide on ice angling boots. I tried out the Muck Boots’ Arctic Sport boots this past year, and when the weather gets miserable they are my go-to boot. I like to pair these boots with quality socks from FITS, particularly their Heavy Expedition Boot Socks or the Wader OTC socks. What I like most about these socks is that they do not slide down your foot, they are warm and are made for different sized feet. We also take a little pride in knowing these socks are made in the USA.
The Right Gloves
Last but now least you will need a quality hat and a great pair of gloves. We really like the quality American made hats from Stormy Kromer for all of our outdoor excursions. The Rancher Cap pairs up well with ice fishing. If you want a little more coverage, the Northwoods Trapper Hat is just thing to keep your ears warm and the wind off your neck. There are many options for gloves, as well. Do you go with mittens or fingered gloves? Waterproof or non-waterproof? We choose waterproof which usually also means wind proof. In most cases we carry several pairs of gloves to match the conditions. In cold and windy conditions, I like mittens; but having to do a lot of work with my hands, I tend to use finger gloves. I sometimes use wool gloves with the fingers cut off for detail work. So many options, why limit yourself?
I feel close to being fully outfitted with the proper attire for ice fishing. Please feel free to put your recommendations in the comments, and I hope to see you on the ice!