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Dress in layers to stay warm, comfortable while ice-fishing

An ice angler dressed in layers on a sunny day shows off his bluegill. A parka or jacket could be added as a layer if the temperature drops or wind picks up. (Nebraskaland Magazine/NGPC)

This is the second installment in a four-part series of articles on ice-fishing for beginners. Next week: Making holes.

By Jerry Kane
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

LINCOLN, Neb. — Staying warm and comfortable while on the ice will go a long way toward ensuring you have a fun outing ice-fishing.

The conditions will determine exactly how you will want to dress, but, regardless, you should dress in layers. The reason? You’ll want to stay warm, and you’ll need to avoid sweating.

Getting set up for fishing – or moving to new fishing areas on the ice – is where you can work up a sweat. This includes carrying or dragging your gear onto the ice, drilling holes and setting up a shelter.

Activity makes you sweat, even on frigid days on the ice. In the cold, sweat can lower your body temperature and lead to hypothermia. You should lose or loosen layers during periods of activity then put them back on when you are finished.

Wear layers of clothing that are loose-fitting and quickly can be removed. They will trap warm air against your body.

For a first layer to put on, wear a wool, synthetic or moisture-wicking base. Avoid cotton as a first layer as it holds moisture, and moisture against the skin on a cold day can lower the body temperature. Cotton or fleece can be worn as a second layer, but wool will provide warmth even when damp. An outer layer could be a waterproof, windproof parka, bib overalls or coveralls.

Thick socks and a good pair of insulated boots will keep your feet warm even though you’re standing on ice all day. It’s best that the boots not be too tight. More room in the toe will allow you a chance to wiggle your toes to keep them warm.

Wear a warm hat or cap to cover the top of your head and ears. Pair it with a fleece neck gaiter for extra protection on windy days.

Anglers need to use their bare hands at some point — to bait jigs, tie knots, or unhook fish — but always should have at least a couple of pairs of gloves or mittens. They don’t need to be tight-fitting. That way, they can be flung off quickly if a bait needs to be changed or a fish needs to be unhooked.

Dress warm, be safe and have fun on the ice this winter.

For more on ice-fishing safety, watch a video at outdoornebraska.gov/howtofish.

Anglers can learn the basics of ice-fishing or pick up a few new tips from experienced anglers at virtual Discover Ice-Fishing clinics in Jan. 16 and 19. Game and Parks Commission and the Nebraska Fish and Game Association will host the classroom clinics via Zoom. Register to attend one or both sessions by going to the calendar event entries at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Previously:

Ice-fishing safety always begins with ice thickness

About Jerry Kane

Jerry Kane is the news manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He can be contacted at jerry.kane@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5008.

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