What is Ice Fishing?

ice fishing

Ice fishing is a sport that rewards participants with food rather than trophies. It is a casual sport for people who love being out on the frozen water. Ice fishing is only done during the winter months since frozen surfaces are required. The sport takes a lot of patience but pays off when people reel in a giant fish.


Ice fishing is linked to Native Americans from 2,000 years ago. It is believed to have been practiced in North America, both in the modern United States and Canada. Native Americans used spears for fishing as fishing rods had not been invented yet. They chose to dig holes in the ice to find the fish they needed in order to survive.

Playing Surface

Ice Fishing Playing Surface

Ice fishing takes place on frozen lakes and rivers. Good conditions for ice fishing are a cold day, and the ice must be fairly thick to hold the weight of the fisherman and their equipment.

Ice Fishing Equipment

Ice Fishing Equipment

Items exclusive to ice fishing include a drill for the ice and winter weather gear, such as a jacket and gloves. People who choose to ice fish for multiple days may invest in a hut, or ice shanty, to shelter themselves from the cold weather.

Here is the essential ice fishing equipment you should have:

  • Bait: Used to attract fish to the hook
  • Drill: Tool that makes hole in the ice
  • Fishing Rod/Reel: Device used to pull fish to the surface
  • Fishing Line: Used to hold fish after taking the bait
  • Hooks: Used to attach bait and latch onto fish
  • Parka: A lined jacket designed for freezing temperatures
  • Shelter: Temporary living area to protect from cold weather
  • Tackle Box: Case that holds line, bait, and other accessories


The goal of ice fishing is to catch as many fish as possible. The season will determine where to drill a hole in the ice. In the winter, aim closer to the middle of the lake. In the spring, fish tend to go near shallower waters since they are spawning, which means the hole should be drilled closer to land. Another goal of ice fishing is not to get injured out in the cold. Be aware of the temperature and make sure to wear many layers.

Rules and Regulations

Ice Fishing Rules and Regulations

Rules for ice fishing can vary in different states and countries, but some of the regulations enforced are the same. Rules like line limits for ice fishing are implemented in each state, meaning that a fisherman can only have a certain number of lines while they fish. Another common rule is the fishing restriction of certain types of fish like salmon and trout from being caught, with the goal of species preservation

Here are the most important ice fishing rules you should know:

  • There are designated months for ice fishing (Typically December through April)
  • Line limits
  • Restrictions on certain types of fish based on area


It is essential to know what to look for before you start ice fishing. Calculating ice thickness and deciding where to drill your hole are both components to a successful day of fishing. The list below will show you what you need to do to catch a good amount of fish out on the ice.

Here are the most crucial ice fishing strategies you should know:

  • Ice should be at least 4 inches thick to walk on it and must be 15 or more inches thick to hold the weight of a truck
  • The best depth for fishing is between 3-20 feet
  • Always check your traps at least once every thirty minutes


Ice Fishing Lingo

Most of the terminology associated with ice fishing is related to equipment used to fish. Since fishing is primarily a recreational sport, there is not much terminology that has to do with competition.

Here is the common lingo and slang in Fishing:

  • Chub: A chub is known as a fishing bait that is medium or large in size. 
  • Shanty: A permanent or portable shelter used to protect someone from the cold weather on multi-day ice fishing trips
  • Spud: Device used to measure ice thickness, usually a heavy metal bar with a chisel attached to it

Ice Fishermen

ice fishermen fisherwomen

Most famous ice fisher’s names come from posting tips and tricks online. Those who have the largest followings reside on YouTube, where some of the best ice fishing professionals have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. They are willing to share methods to becoming a great ice fisher, which makes them some of the most notable names in the sport.

Here are the most famous ice fishers you should know:

  • Tom Boley: He has over 50,000 subscribers on YouTube and makes guides for catching more fish.
  • Carl And Alex: They review ice fishing locations in Sweden and have over 250,000 subscribers.
  • Chris Bulaw: Chris travels the world to ice fish and his most famous video is from a trip on Lake Erie.

Events and Competitions

Ice Fishing Events and Competitions

There are not many sanctioned ice fishing events around the world. They are either localized or open to all, but not sponsored by a governing body. While small, these events still offer prizes for the best ice fishers. The sport is most popular in North America, but some other countries like Canada and South Korea do hold competitions.

Here is the most popular tournament in Ice Fishing:

  • Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza: Held in the middle of Minnesota, this ice fishing competition hosts over 15,000 anglers who raise money for charity by participating.


Can you bring a vehicle on the ice?

Driving on ice is dangerous even when the ice is thick enough. Make sure to measure the ice before bringing a vehicle on it.

What type of fish do you catch while ice fishing?

Species like bluegill, crappie, and perch are the most common when ice fishing.

How do you stay warm while ice fishing?

Make sure to wear plenty of layers with coats, gloves, and hats. You can also rent or buy a shanty to seek shelter from the cold.

How big should you make your ice fishing hole?

An ice fishing hole ranges from 4 inches to 12 inches in diameter depending on the size of the fish you are trying to catch.