How to Get Your Ice Fishing Gear on The Lake

Written by in Fishing
Image Credits: @fisketur.kenneth

Since I have recently been interested in the topic of ice fishing and learned a little bit about the equipment that is involved, I started to wonder how all of that gear could possibly be carried across a frozen lake. 

So, I did some research of my own to find out some tips and tricks on how to get your ice fishing gear on the lake.

How can you get your ice fishing gear on the lake? Before transporting your ice fishing gear onto the lake, you should always test to make sure that the ice is thick enough for you and all of your equipment. Once that has been established, you will move out from the edges of the lake, traveling in the buddy system for additional safety.

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When it comes to ice fishing, the long list of special equipment that is required can seem intimidating at first glance. 

So, how do you get all of that gear onto the lake in the safest and most convenient way possible? 

Leave it to me to give you my own tips and tricks for how to go about transporting your ice fishing equipment.

How to Get Your Ice Fishing Gear on The Lake

While going ice fishing for the very first time, it can seem very intimidating to put so much weight on the top of a frozen lake. 

With the long list of supplies and the weight of your own body, you can feel like you are about to fall through the ice before you even get out there.

Luckily, there is a correct way to get your ice fishing gear onto the lake, as well as some more convenient ways to hold them, which we will get into within the next few sections.

For now, we will go over the basics of how to physically enter the area on top of the frozen lake with all of your ice fishing gear behind you. 

If you have experience with ice fishing already, you can go over these quick steps. 

Otherwise, keep reading for more details that you will need to know before you get started.

Getting Your Ice Fishing Gear On The Lake - Tips and Tricks:

  • Start on the edges of the lake with the thickest ice
  • Test ice for thickness and safety before transporting gear
  • Travel with the buddy system at all times
  • Make sure you are wearing all necessary safety equipment
  • Get out there and start fishing!

One of the most valuable pieces of information that you can know before going ice fishing is that the ice is the thickest around the edges of the water. 

You should always keep this in mind as the safest place to metaphorically dip your toes in before dragging all of your heavy gear out toward the center of the lake.

Begin by staying near the edges of the lake while you test the surrounding ice for thickness. 

This can be done by using one of your digging tools to create a hole in the ice and observing the thickness on the sides of the hole.

Ideal Ice Thickness:

  • 4 inches - on foot
  • 8 inches - snowmobile
  • 12 inches - full sized vehicles and ice shanties

As a general reference, the ice thickness that you measure should be at least 4 inches if you are traveling on foot with your gear across your back.

If you are driving a snowmobile instead, you will need at least 8 solid inches of ice. 

Ice thickness levels exceeding 12 inches will be safe enough for full sized vehicles and ice shanties, so you will not need to worry about falling through at this level.

These thickness levels, of course, apply to very solid ice. 

So, any kind of soft ice or slush will not count in your measurements.

Before proceeding, make sure that you are wearing all necessary safety equipment. 

This includes the proper winter clothing that will cover your body completely fromt he cold, as well as a life jacket or vest on top.

Another valuable tip while dragging your gear onto the ice is to travel in partners. 

The buddy system will never fail you when it comes to ice fishing. 

In the event that someone slips into the ice, the other person will be there to help them in no time.

Once you have performed all of the necessary tests and confirmed that the ice levels are safe for you and your equipment or vehicles, you can head out onto the ice and start fishing!

Ways to Pack And Carry Ice Fishing Gear

As mentioned in the previous section, there are a few different ways to carry and transport your ice fishing gear onto the lake. 

This can be anything from carrying your gear in your hands or over your shoulder, or attaching it to a sled or snowmobile.

Regardless of where you will hold the gear, you can follow a few general steps of how to safely store this equipment:

How To Pack Ice Fishing Equipment:

  • Place your fishing rods in a secure bag (with a strap if you will be carrying it)
  • Place all smaller equipment into a 5-gallon bucket
  • After you have safely packed away your gear, the next steps will depend on how you will be holding it.

Carrying Ice Fishing Gear By Hand:

  • Strap the bag of fishing rods over your shoulder
  • Hold the 5-gallon bucket of equipment in one hand
  • Hold any other miscellaneous equipment in your other hand and drag it behind you

Carrying Ice Fishing Gear On a Sled/Snowmobile:

  • Place your bag of fishing rods on the sled or snowmobile
  • Strap the 5-gallon bucket onto the back of the vehicle
  • Place any miscellaneous equipment on the vehicle or on the windshield.
  • Attach the sled to the back of the snowmobile (if applicable)

As you can see, there are plenty of safe and convenient ways in which to store and transport your ice fishing gear. 

Although the task of walking or driving across the top of a frozen lake with a long list of equipment can seem daunting, you can’t go wrong with the tips and tricks that were offered in this article.

No matter where you will be going ice fishing or which method you choose to hold your gear with, hopefully you can take away some helpful techniques on getting all of that gear out onto the ice.

Related Questions

Where can I find ice fishing gear for the best price?

Ice fishing gear will experience the best deals and sales in the Spring, directly after the season is over at the end of February. There are still sales present in the Summer time, but all of the most desirable gear has often been cleared out by this time by the Spring crowd.

Which retailers sell the most quality ice fishing gear?

Although there are many retailers that offer ice fishing gear, you will most likely have the best luck shopping with a trusted store such as Bass Pro Shops or Cabelas. While shopping online can be convenient at times, it is always better to be able to try out your gear and assess the quality in person before making the purchase.

Where are the best places to go ice fishing in the United States?

Within the United States, there are several desirable ice fishing locations. These include extremely cold places such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New York. You can also find some great ice fishing spots in Indiana, Colorado, Montana, Utah, and even California.

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