With tents and other minimal supplies, you can build your own mobile ice fishing camp. This is how to create your own this winter
Written by Kristen Fisher | Published 3:09 PM, November 22, 2021
Winter is here, and many freshwater anglers are looking forward to ice fishing. If you are not from Wisconsin, Michigan, or Minnesota, you may be unfamiliar with the temporary ice fishing huts formed on frozen lakes in the north. But this is not a reason not to join the party.
Traditionally, these core ice fishermen would drive campers, fish houses and DIY sheds to spend the winter on the ice. They dot the outline of the lake and fill the basin until spring arrives and the ice starts to melt. There are also many weekend warriors who set up tents on the frozen lake to fight the cold temperature and the sting of the wind. The others just sat on a five-gallon bucket, stretched it out to the open, clutching their poles and a cup of coffee, trying to keep it warm.
If you are a casual angler (like me), you will need a mix of all three ice fishing options. I like to set up on the lake for a few days or even a week. I can't tow an ice shed across the country, but I don't just want a small tent that is more suitable for day trips. I need something that I can live comfortably.
If you are preparing for an adventure this winter, here are the essentials needed to build a proper fishing camp on the ice.
Pop-up tents are a must. I would recommend an insulated tent, especially on ice, where the temperature may drop below zero. Insulating enclosures retain heat better than standard enclosures, but they also absorb moisture. Otter Outdoors' Vortex Cabin is a good choice, but if you want a tent that can withstand the harshest environment, consider using an Arctic oven-it is the best. I also always carry extra bets. You will need these on windy days or as a backup if you lose them. Be sure to bring a cordless drill and buy an ice anchor adapter. This will save you from having to hammer the stakes into the ice.
Cribs are essential for ice fishing camps. They are easy to transport and keep you away from the cold, which is critical. You should also consider sleeping pads. Compared to lying directly in a crib, they will keep you warmer and you will sleep more comfortably.
It is a must to buy a synthetic sleeping bag with an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. There will be a lot of moisture in your tent, and the down insulation bag will absorb it. Synthetic bags will not. Choose a bag with a temperature rating that suits your fishing conditions. Just realize that the temperature rating on the sleeping bag is for survival at that temperature, not comfort. I also choose sleeping bags with a waterproof and windproof appearance.
Flooring will help insulate your tent and keep your feet warm, because your boots will not directly touch the ice. This can be done by using interlocking foam pads and covering your camp area. Closed-cell foam pads are best because they will not retain moisture. In addition, at night or when you are not using them, bring plywood to cover your fishing holes so you don't accidentally step on one.
Putting a propane heater in the camp will make you more comfortable, especially if you have to leave the comfortable tent for any reason. But be sure to ventilate the tent, because carbon monoxide poisoning is a real danger. If you don't take proper precautions, it may kill you. I don't recommend that you turn on the heater when you sleep. If the vent is closed for some reason, you and everyone in the tent may die. Instead, layer at night and make sure you have a warm sleeping bag. In addition, it is wise to buy a carbon monoxide sensor, which will alert you when the oxygen content is too low.
Read the next article: 7 ways to survive on ice
For clothes, you need a warm bottom layer and a waterproof shell. You won't sweat, so you don't need a base layer that can breathe, which makes wool a smart choice. Insulating bibs and parka coats are also necessities. Basically, you want to take away every piece of warm clothing you own and put on it. Waterproof gloves are also ideal.
Bring solar panels and mobile power to charge electronic devices and keep you in touch with the outside world (but only if you need to). Goal Zero has made an excellent lightweight portable power bank called Yeti. You can also buy solar panels for the bank.
Everyone must use the bathroom. If you are not close to the shore, it will be inconvenient to walk around when nature calls. Pack a smaller one-person fishing tent and set up a temporary toilet inside. Use a five-gallon bucket with a plastic bag inside and a toilet seat on it (they are ideal for medical use in hospitals). Now that you have a portable toilet, you can easily remove waste from it. You will need toilet paper and wet wipes, but make sure to store these wet wipes in an inner bag or sleeping bag at night, otherwise they will freeze.
In ice fishing camps, preventing drinking water from freezing overnight is another factor to consider. If you have a small portable stove, you can boil it, or just use an insulated cooler. I use a single burner propane furnace. This allows me to boil water for freeze-dried meals or cook canned food. Bring plenty of energy bars and foods that don’t need to be cooked to supplement your diet. You will need to eat regularly, because spending time in the cold-yes, even if you just sit there-will cause your body to burn calories at a faster rate. You also need to drink plenty of water, because even if you may not feel thirsty, you still need to stay hydrated.
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