• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

How to Host a Winter Ice Fishing Camp

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Dec 6, 2021

You don’t have to depend on an ice fishing shack to enjoy hard water season. Kristine Fisher

Winter is approaching and many freshwater anglers are eagerly awaiting ice fishing. If you’re not from Wisconsin, Michigan, or Minnesota, you might not be familiar with the temporary colonies of ice fishing shacks that form on frozen northern lakes. But that’s no reason not to join the party.

Traditionally, these basic ice fishermen will drive campers, fish houses, and DIY shacks onto the ice for the winter. They dot the contours of the lake and fill the pools until spring arrives and the ice begins to melt. There are also plenty of weekend warriors who trek in tents on the frozen lakes to fight the sting of freezing temperatures and high winds. Others simply sit on a five-gallon bucket and hold it out in the open, holding their cane and a thermos of coffee, trying to stay warm.

If you’re a transient angler (like me), you’ll need a hybrid of these three ice fishing options. I like to settle on a lake for a few days or even a week. I can’t tow an ice shack across the country, but I don’t just want a small tent more suitable for a day trip. I need something that I can live comfortably.

If you’re up for adventure this winter, here’s what you need to set up a real ice fishing camp.

Choose a good shelter for ice fishing

A pop-up tent is a must. I would recommend one heat insulated tent, especially on ice where temperatures can drop below freezing. Insulated shells will retain heat better than standard shells, but they will also absorb moisture. The Otter Outdoors Vortex Cabin is a great option, but if you want a tent that can handle the harshest elements, consider a arctic oven-it’s the best. I always carry extra stakes too. You’ll need them on windy days, or as backups if you lose any. Be sure to bring a cordless drill and purchase a ice anchor adapter. This will save you from having to drive stakes into the ice.

Camp beds are essential for the ice fishing camp. They are easy to carry and get you out of the ice cold, which is essential. You should also consider a mattress. They will keep you much warmer than lying directly on the bed, and also, you will sleep much more comfortably.

Invest in a synthetic sleeping bag with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio is a must. There will be a ton of moisture in your tent and the down insulated bags will absorb it. A synthetic bag will not. Choose a bag with a temperature rating suitable for the conditions in which you will be fishing. Just recognize that a temperature rating on a sleeping bag is for survival in that temperature, not comfort. I would also choose a sleeping bag with a water and wind resistant exterior.

Installing a floor will insulate your tent and also keep your feet warm, because your boots will not be in direct contact with the ice. This can be done by using interlocking foam mats and covering your camp area. Closed cell foam mats are best because they don’t retain moisture. Also bring pieces of plywood to cover your fishing holes at night or when you’re not using them, so you don’t accidentally get into them.

Read more : Best Ice Fishing Shelters

Staying warm is essential while ice fishing

You have to stay warm on the ice.
Staying warm on the ice is essential, so you can focus on catching fish. Tyler Freel

Having a propane heater in camp will make you much more comfortable, especially if you have to leave the comfort of the tent for some reason. But be sure to ventilate your tent properly because carbon monoxide poisoning is a real danger. It could kill you if you don’t take the proper precautions. I don’t recommend keeping the heater on while you sleep. If for some reason the vent closes, you and everyone else in the tent could die. Instead, go to bed at night and make sure you have a warm sleeping bag. Additionally, it’s a good idea to purchase a carbon monoxide sensor that will alert you if oxygen levels get too low.

Read more : 7 ways to survive on the ice

For clothing, you need warm base layers and waterproof outer shells. You won’t sweat, so you don’t need breathable base layers, which makes wool a smart option. Insulated bibs and a parka are also essential. Basically, you want to take every warm piece of clothing you own and put it on. Waterproof gloves are also ideal.

The comforts of home at an ice fishing camp

Bringing a solar panel and power bank allows you to charge electronics and stay connected to the outside world (but only if you want to). Goal Zero makes a great lightweight and portable power bank called Yeti. You can also buy a solar panel for the bank.

Everyone has to use the bathroom, and if you’re not near the shore, it won’t be practical to walk all that way when nature calls. Pack in a small one-person fishing tent and set up a makeshift toilet inside. Use a five gallon bucket with a plastic bag inside and place a toilet seat on top (the medical ones they use in hospitals are ideal). You now have a portable toilet that you can easily remove waste from. You will need toilet paper and wet wipes, but be sure to keep these wet wipes in an inside pocket or in your sleeping bag at night or they will freeze.

Prevent your fresh water from freezing

Preventing your drinking water from freezing overnight is another factor to consider at the ice fishing camp. If you have a small, portable stove, you can boil it or just use an insulated cooler. I use a single burner propane stove. It allows me to boil water for freeze-dried meals or to cook preserves. Bring plenty of energy bars and foods that don’t need to be cooked to supplement meals. You will need to eat regularly because spending time in the cold, yes, even if you are just sitting there, will cause your body to burn calories faster. You should also drink plenty of water because even if you are not thirsty, you still need to stay hydrated.