How to Stay Warm While Ice Fishing – Foundry Outdoors
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How to Stay Warm While Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is great, but shivering all day while your extremities feel like they are encased in blocks of ice while trying to catch fish isn't so great. If you can't outlast old man winter, you will miss out on fishing opportunities, but don't worry, there are ways to keep warm while on the ice. 

Force your Body to Adapt

During the late fall, when temperatures are plummeting and early ice is just around the corner, you should be outside as much as possible and dress in minimal warm clothing. 

 Wearing only a sweatshirt as you go about your outdoor activities will allow your body to gradually adjust to the colder temperatures instead of when ice fishing season is in full swing. 

 The human body is incredibly adaptable over time, which is the reason why in late season ice fishing, when temperatures are around 30 degrees, you are totally comfortable standing on the open ice wearing only a hoodie, in the same way past explorers in Antarctica could take snow baths and be totally comfortable doing so in -10 degree temperatures. 

Layer Properly

Layering properly is the key to staying warm all day. You should start with a base layer of long underwear that specializes in moisture-wicking, as moisture from sweat is the downfall of anyone trying to withstand cold temperatures. 

Cotton should be avoided for the first layer, and it's even a good idea to abstain from jeans, hoodies, and other cotton clothing if you can for your second layer. Wool is a great choice for a second layer, as it maintains up to 70% of its insulating properties, even when soaking wet. 

Your third layer or shell layer should be waterproof and wind-resistant. Many of us grew up wearing Carhartt bibs and jackets on the ice, and sure, it works, but I'm sure most of you have experienced the cold wind coming right through the zippers and from the bottom of the jackets. 

There are many great ice fishing dedicated bibs and jackets on the market today that do a great job at keeping people toasty on the ice. 

Heaters and Ice Shacks 

In my opinion, sitting in a big permanent ice shack all day with a wood stove is the lazy man's way of fishing, and in most cases, is not very productive. 

Portable ice shacks, on the other hand, small portable shacks are great and can save the day when coupled with a small propane heater. 

I would suggest that you use your heater and portable ice shack as little as possible. This goes back to the adaptability of your body that we mentioned earlier. Only use the heater and shack when you can't handle the cold any longer.

Sitting in it all day while the heater threatens to melt your boot will discourage you from being active in the search for fish, and you should be out drilling holes and moving regularly if you want to make the most of your time. 

Hand and Foot Protection

It's pretty obvious that this is an important factor, but again we have things we should keep in mind when selecting and wearing gloves and boots. 

Gloves aren't worn constantly while ice fishing. It's hard to grab a 1/32 ounce jig, unhook fish, and it's impossible to tie line with big bulky gloves on. Simply choose warm insulated gloves, preferably leather, for when you need them. 

Boots, on the other hand, should be 100% waterproof, and this means your choice should be insulated rubber boots, like the knee-high boots many hunters use for scent prevention. 

Leather boots that claim to be waterproof will work for some time, but eventually that waterproofing characteristic will wear off as the boot wears in, and if you are drilling holes all day, the leather will get soaked through with water. 

Final Thoughts 

Sure, you can sit in a shack all day if you want, but the guys on the open ice being mobile and active are always going to catch more than you. Staying warm on the ice comes down to proper clothing and adaptability, and the colder you allow yourself to get throughout the year, coupled with proper layering and clothing, the easier it will be to outlast the cold. 

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