Ice Fishing Equipment Tips

I hate winter. Ever since I moved to North Dakota in 1979, I've been bothered by the cold....BUT!....A few years ago I discovered ICE FISHING!

Especially Ice fishing Devils Lake! (Stump Lake ice fishing is also VERY hot this year!)

This is the first in a series of tips for ice fishing in North Dakota.

I'll start with what I consider to be the most important thing: Warm Clothing. I consider warm clothing to be at the base of any good ice-fishing trip.

This article will concentrate on clothing.



Get the warmest boots you can afford. It's worth a trip to a local Cabela's (in East Grand Forks, MN) just to go to the 'Bargain Cave' to get your boots. (Or if you live too far away, e-mail someone who lives close to Grand Forks to pick you up a pair)
I can't count the number of trips cut short because SOMEONE in my group was complaining about cold feet.  Nobody whined about not catching fish...they whined about cold feet. I paid almost $100 for my USED pair of boots. It was worth every penny.

One more word about Cabela's:

I just got off the phone with an assistant manager, and he explained that, although all items in the 'bargain cave' are bought 'as is' (no return), he felt that Cabela's would do their best to honor their 30-day guarantee, especially if something was bought as a gift and doesn't fit.

 "Don't 'abuse' this", was the information he gave me....

On the other hand....I want you all to know that every item in the 'bargain cave' is negotiable in price....just ask for another $5.00 off? It worked for me!


Hand warmers/boot warmers

Now, as an addition to the boots, they make these cool little hand warmers/pocket warmers. They are available at any Wal-Mart or Target or K-mart in the ice fishing/hunting area. Don't buy one about a dozen packs of 6. Put them in your glove compartment.

They are a lifesaver if you get stuck in a blizzard! During really cold days I stick 2 in my boots and 2 in my coat pockets. As a general rule, though, at least 2 go in my boots prior to ice fishing. They work better than you think, and they are cheap.

Now, a word of warning:

If you are planning on doing a lot of walking on the lake/ more than a  1/2 mile....take the pocket warmers OUT of your boots. (Voice of experience here...they get TOO HOT for comfort).



I prefer a little set of gloves I purchased at a local Lumber store for $5.

They have the fingers cut off, they are leather with a 'pseudo-gortex' back. A close friend of mine thought it was ridiculous to wear these...seeing as though the only thing that got cold when HE was out fishing was his fingers. And the cut-off fingers didn't make sense to him.

But let me share an analogy:

In the summer, we wear short-sleeved shirts don't we? We don't wear a long-sleeved shirt or nothing, do we? Do you wear shorts? Consider the cut-off finger gloves similar to a short-sleeved shirt or shorts.

No, they do not keep your fingers as warm as full gloves, but it isn't as cold as you would think. Besides, you can keep an oversized set of mittens available to warm those fingers up, if you have to. (Oh yeah....don't forget those little HAND WARMERS you have in the glove did buy some, didn't you? Why aren't they in your pockets if your hands are cold?)

Using these gloves makes handling bait and small lures and tying up lines MUCH easier. Try them, they're only $5 or so.



I prefer to wear two hats. One is a pullover ski mask hat, and the second an oversized 'mad-bomber' hat. I typically only need the ski mask, and that keeps me quite warm, but the mad-bomber hat is used on top when those wind-chills drop.


Again, I like the idea of layers. A long sleeve shirt, with a tee-shirt underneath, and a normal ski jacket on top. I've never felt too cold in my upper torso while ice fishing, and if I did, a walk over to check a tip-up usually warmed me up just fine.

The bottom line here is any coat will do. Spend the extra money on good boots.


Wal-Mart didn't get placed in every town over 20,000 people for nothing, and a simple pair of bib-overalls bought from your local Wal-Mart, or Target or K-mart is just fine. I prefer bib overalls to the full suit, because there are times when I get too HOT on the ice. At that point I can just drop the suspenders and the heat released from my chest usually cools me off fairly quickly.

Under the overalls I wear a pair of jeans and a pair of long-underwear.

 Simple stuff.


2 pair, try to avoid cotton, but I seem to be 'ok' with one pair of cotton and one pair oversized wool.


Spend your money on your boots, buy the hand warmers and a $5.00 pair of cut-off finger gloves. Dress for the coldest day of fishing, and strip off what gets to hot. Everything else, you probably already have.

This particular set of tips have kept me plenty warm in -30 Fahrenheit, with wind. REMEMBER: you can always take OFF something if you get too warm...(just don't get cold and cut our next ice fishing trip short.)    :>)

I'll try to take pictures of each of these items, for clarity, in the future.

Scott McNamee

Next set of tips:

'Gimme' Shelter!-Ice Fishing Shelter Tips





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