Outdoors in Australia - Clara's Blog

Read my take on many outdoors-related topics

Month: October 2018

Getting ready for ice fishing trip – buying gear

As fun as regular fishing might be, i, and many of my friends, can’t wait for warm season to pass and winter to kick in, so that we can enjoy ice fishing on our favorite lakes. People often don’t realize how many of us are waiting for ice to get thick enough, so that we can set up our ice fishing shelters on those lakes and get to fishing. The optimal thickness of ice layer is debated – some people think that ice four inches thick is more than enough, while others recommend making sure that the ice you’re standing on is at least 6 inches thick. To be honest, i think the difference is irrelevant – some people will choose the safer path, while others convenient one. Thickness of ice, while important, is only one of many concerns that ice fishing enthusiasts must address before they go on fishing trip. I decided to write this post to address most of those concerns related with ice fishing.
   If you’ve been ice fishing for at least one year, your first order of things should be checking out the condition of your equipment. Certain parts of your gear might have gotten rusty or even worse – dysfunctional. Ice fishing is sort of sport that doesn’t allow learning as you go, your gear must be in excellent shape before you depart for the like. So that’s why i always thoroughly check every part of my ice fishing gear – shelters, clothing, rods and all the other ones. Even with that, i sometimes make minor mistakes, so that should be good indicator of how important preparation process really is. Some stuff might still be functional, but so thoroughly used that it’s a good idea to replace them. Minor detail like zipper or cord might be missing or damaged on your ice fishing shelter. Clothing might have torn and have hole in them, or any of such similar problems. Possibilities are endless. By starting preparation in late september-early october, you’ll have plenty of time to replace everything that’s missing or malfunctioning.
When it comes to clothes, zippers tend to be especially tricky. They may seem to work at first glance, but they’ll get stuck when you need them the most. So i always make sure to check zippers especially carefully to avoid any confusion. Good news is that zippers aren’t that hard to replace. I mostly buy Frabill clothes and i can say, with full confidence, that their zippers rarely stop working and if they do, are easy to replace.  I’ve had 3 different pairs of ice fishing boots over my decade-long ice fishing career, all of them had zipper problems. That’s why i always tell people to learn how to choose best ice fishing boots. Reading buying guide like this one would be a good start.
 Hand augers are rather simple to maintain. Except for rusting, which is unlikely with most stainless steel hand augers, they aren’t under any danger. Power augers, on the other hand, especially the gas-powered ones, are rather fragile on that front. There are spark plugs to look out for, also many other minor details. Also, make sure to have plenty of gas, to make sure you never run out of it when you need it most – on the lake. It’s always good idea to try turning on gas powered augers at least few times to make sure it works. Just like with warm clothes, you don’t want to take chances with your auger. It must work.

   It’s also a good practice to set up your portable ice shelter to try it out in practice. Set it up somewhere in your vicinity to make sure everything’s running smoothly. My frabill shelter is rather small and sturdy, and even i had to had my zippers fixed once. People with larger shelters will have more pressing things to take care of, obviously.
 These are the main components of my ice fishing gear. Of course, there are many other tools like heaters to take care of, but i can’t talk about everything in just one post. So i’ll finish with this now, and save the rest of the ice fishing gear for later.

Which ice fishing equipment do beginners need the most?

Ice fishing is not like any other hobby. If something goes wrong, there’s a chance of fatal outcome, so preparing for ice fishing trip is something you shouldn’t take lightly. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so when you’re packing for upcoming ice fishing trip, make sure you have everything you need, from a to z. That doesn’t mean that all ice fishing equipment and clothing should be treated with equal urgency. There are some things that are good to have, and other things that are absolutely essential to have in order to ensure your safety. When looking for ice fishing gear to buy for yourself, there are too many things to consider. That’s why i decided to write this post, so that i can help you narrow down your ice fishing wish list, so that you only spend money on essential attire and equipment.

   First and foremost, you’ll need proper clothing to protect yourself from harsh weather. That includes, but is not limited to – good ice fishing boots, warmest ice fishing gloves, bibs, and preferably water resistant jacket. The latter can be found at most outdoors-themed retailers, but you’ll have to do a little more digging to find good ice fishing gear. Ice fishing enthusiasts don’t represent large share of population, so most outdoors retailers have limited variety of brands to choose from. That’s why i like to buy all my ice fishing attire from Amazon. It is cheap and their guides on sizes are helpful in choosing the right fit for yourself. I got my ice fishing boots and bibs from Amazon, and after owning them for 4 years now, i can confidently say that no other retailer can match Amazon neither on price or quality.

 Back to attire. Boots obviously have to be water resistant and warm. That’s the whole point of wearing ice fishing boots. But they also have to be made of high quality materials, so that they don’t tear or fall apart easily. I also recommend paying attention to the outsoles of the boots you’re looking to purchase. Good outsoles will have solid grip and won’t weigh too much. When you’re standing on frozen lake for whole day, it’s important to make sure that your boots won’t slip. You also don’t want to be bogged down by extra weight. To sum it all up – you want boots that are waterproof, warm, have good grip, while being as light as possible.   

  I also think that warm gloves are a must have. Some ice fishing experts might disagree with me on this, but here’s why i believe that ice fishing gloves are essential. Everyone agrees that you need some kind of protection for your hands and fingers, as they are the most vulnerable to freezing. Some people say that you need ice fishing gloves specifically, while others think that you can get by with any other warm gloves. As you probably know, i agree with the former, and here’s why. Warm gloves are usually thick and constrict your free movement of fingers. They are not dexterous. When you are ice fishing, you need as much dexterity as you can get. Ski gloves or mittens might be super warm but they will leave you disabled to move freely. Plus, they are much more expensive than ice fishing gloves anyway, so you might as well buy ice fishing gloves to begin with.

 Ice fishing bibs are rather straightforward to purchase. I like and recommend Stormr and Frabill brands. I’ve had Stormr myself for few years now and i love it. It is made of high quality materials that ensure its toughness and resistance to leaking water. My friend has Frabill, and i know for a fact that same applies to that particular brand. Granted, these two cost a little bit more than your average ice fishing bib, but in the long run, investment in high quality products always pays off.

 Other attire that are good to have, but not essential, include : waterproof jacket, ice cleats for your boots, something to cover your face. Waterproof jacket is self-explanatory, i think. It’s always good idea to have ice cleats, especially if you notice your boots to be slipping. Face cover is not always essential, but sometimes, when weather gets especially rough, it’s good to have.