Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Today’s post comes from multi-species angler and writer Ashley Rae of

Brother! The winter weather has hit Ontario hard.

As the ice freezes across the province, anglers are starting to venture out into the hard waters for ice fishing.

Ice fishing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors during our long, cold winters. Believe me, when you’re out fishing, winter goes by in a flash!

Fortunately, with the wide range of equipment available today, ice fishing doesn’t have to be a hair-raising experience. To enjoy a safe and comfortable season from start to finish, make sure you’re prepared by checking out the list below.

ice chisel

An ice chisel, or potato stick, is the most important item to carry with you when venturing out on the ice.

Spud and cleats on the ice.

This long, heavy bar is used to check the ice a couple of steps ahead. Anglers use the sharp edge to tap the ice to check for cracks. Checking the ice one step further determines an unsafe thickness before stepping on it.

Ice thickness varies everywhere, even within the same body of water. Natural springs, streams, and snow cover can affect ice quality. Always use caution when venturing into a body of water at any time during the season.


When there is little or no snow cover, cleats provide great traction when walking on slippery ice.

Not only are they useful for walking, but they will also provide traction while you drill holes with an auger (or run to help your friend fish)!

See also  Find the fall migrants

Ice pick

Ice picks should always be used while in hard water.

Ashley with ice pick

Often attached by a rope, ice picks are worn around the neck and rest on the front of the body. If you fall through the ice, they are easy to access. Sharp tips on each end help you get out of the water.

flotation suit

Person sitting on ice with sonar

Flotation suits can make the difference between life and death.

Like a full-body life jacket, they are designed to keep you afloat in case you end up in the water.

Nowadays, float suits come in a variety of colors and styles, and are very warm and stylish.

Companies like Mustang Survival and Striker Ice offer a variety of flotation suit options. Striker Ice also makes specific suits for female fishermen.

A friend and a plan

You never know what can happen when you’re on the ice.

It’s always best to be accompanied by a friend or family member while exploring hard water. Always be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.

Speaking of planning, make sure part of your prep work includes checking the Fishing Regulations!

Dress up hot

Layers, layers, layers!Ashley holds a walleye on the ice.

Ice fishing is often thought of as a cold sport. I’m not one to tolerate the cold, but by wearing proper layers, I rarely feel cold.

I start with a base layer of merino wool or polypropylene for moisture management. Next is an insulating layer, followed by a soft layer for weather protection.

My flotation suit is the last layer. I wear a two-piece suit that allows me to take off my jacket if I get too hot. Layering allows you to remove clothing items while traveling and then layer again when stationary.

See also  Birding in the Boreal Forest (Ontario Songbird Nursery)

Don’t forget waterproof boots, gloves and a fully lined wool cap to keep warm.

Fishing comfortably

Ashley releases a walleye onto the ice.

Ice fishing comfort is defined differently for all of us.

Over the years, I have added equipment like a shelter, a portable heater, and a chair.

Sometimes I leave everything at home and just bring my rods, tackle and flasher (ice fishing sonar).

I can travel light on the warmer days, set up camp, and turn on the heat on the colder days.

No matter what species you’re targeting this winter, have a safe and successful ice fishing season!