Fact Checked

What is Ice Fishing?

Shannon Kietzman
Shannon Kietzman

Ice fishing is a sport that involves catching fish from within a frozen lake or other body of water. Before going ice fishing on a body of water, the fisher must make sure that the ice is at least four inches thick in order to ensure his or her safety. The fisher must then saw a hole in the surface of the ice in order to drop a fishing line into the body of water.

When ice fishing, a fisher may sit outside in the cold on a stool with nothing more than heavy clothing to provide protection. In some cases, however, the fisher may sit inside a heated cabin located on the ice. These cabins are referred to by a variety of names, such as fish house, ice shanty, bobhouse, and ice hut. They may include bunks, cooking facilities, and light, and are usually used on a multi-day ice fishing trip. In order to set up an ice shanty for ice fishing, a snowmobile or truck must be used to drag it to the fishing location.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

In order to go ice fishing, the fisher needs a saw, ice spade, or auger in order to cut the hole in the ice. Sometimes, a strainer may also be necessary to remove new ice as it forms while drilling the hole or while ice fishing. The types of fishing rods needed for ice fishing depend on the fish the fisher hopes to catch.

A small, lightweight rod is used to jig for fish. A fisher may also use a tip-up rod when ice fishing. This rod is ideal for the fisher who does not wish to attend completely to the fishing rod. The fisher may also use a spear instead of a reel for ice fishing. In order to use a spear for ice fishing, the fisher also needs fish decoys to draw the fish to the hole in the ice.

Fishers who are very serious about ice fishing may also use a flasher. A flasher is a specialized sonar system capable of telling the fisher how deep the fish are in the water. The fisher may also use underwater cameras in order to watch the fish. This can add an interesting aspect to the sport of ice fishing, as the fisher can watch how fish react to various lures and to being caught.

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Discussion Comments


@Scrbblchick -- I remember those scenes from the movie. They were funny.

I have a friend who lives (where else?) in Minnesota and her dad and uncle were big ice fishermen. She said they always came back from a trip with hopefully enough fish for a meal, but always with a mess of tall tales about what they had done during the trip. She said they were so-so fishermen, but great storytellers, which also described most of the ice fishermen she knew. It was really a way to get out of the house when it was cold and miserable outside. It was fairly warm in the shacks and she said it helped cabin fever.


I think the first time I saw an ice fishing shack was in one of the "Grumpy Old Men" movies. I had no idea people would actually live out on the ice for a few days while they fished! I knew deer and duck hunters would stay in tree stands or blinds all day, but had no though that people would live on the ice.

The more I thought about it, the more I decided that, if I could keep from freezing, there are days when an ice hut, far away from cell phones and humans, sounds like an ideal way to spend a few days. I then understood why they are so popular.

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