Want to Try Ice Fishing This Winter? Top Tips for Novice Anglers

Picture of a person ice fishing

Bundle up–it’s cold out there!

Webmaster note: Ice fishing is a great way to explore our northern Minnesota playground and guest writer James Royce has some handy tips for ice fishing rookies.

The Toolbox

Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources provides a list of ice fishing gear that you’ll need for your ice fishing adventure, including:

  • Lures, tackle and jigs
  • Jigging rod and/or tip up
  • Toboggan or sled (to haul your gear)
  • Stool or chair to sit on
  • Ice auger,  and skimmer/scoop (a chisel/spud comes in handy as well)
  • Bucket for bait
  • Hook disgorger or a pliers

Fishing Memos

  • Obtain the proper fishing license from the Minnesota DNR. (Don’t worry if you are not near a DNR office–you can now buy them online!)
  • Read over state fishing regulations for the latest updates on various lakes regulations, restrictions and seasonal closures.
  • Along with your layered garments, protect your feet from ice and snow with waterproof pack boots equipped with a rubber sole and insulation.
  • Bring a portable shelter for protection from strong winds and blowing snow. You may also want a stove, heater or burner for extra warmth. (Be aware that a shelter may not be left unoccupied or unattended anytime between midnight and one hour prior to sunrise, unless it is licensed.)
  • Ensure the ice is at least four inches thick and solid before fishing.
  • If you are not familiar with the area, use a compass and make notes of landmarks.
  • Drill small fishing holes, at least eight inches or smaller in diameter.
  • Pack an emergency kit that includes ice awls, rope, PFDs, matches and a first aid kit.
  • Fish with a buddy, but avoid congregating in one spot to prevent breaking the ice.
  • If you don’t have all of the gear you need, stop by Stone Harbor’s Rental Department. You can rent Wintergreen outerwear, Neos overshoes, augers, portable ice fishing shelters, fish finders, tip ups, sleds, portable heaters, and ice fishing rods, reels and tackle.)

James Royce is a freelance writer and photographer from Des Moines, Iowa. His favorite profession, however, is being a husband and a father to his three sons.

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