February Fishing Fails Will Foil Your Fun

Even if you’ve never gone fishing in your entire life – and never plan to – please don’t ignore this. 

You may find yourself in a position someday where if you don’t catch a fish, you don’t eat. And if you don’t eat, you starve. Sorry, but that might be the reality. 

You owe it to yourself and your family to check out this advice about what NOT to do when you fish.

I call these fishing fails. Many of us have committed at least one of these fishing fails. Avoiding them in the future could be a lifesaver.

One is the loneliest number

Because it’s February, I’m going to focus on ice fishing fails. Perhaps this summer we’ll take a look at other fishing “don’ts”.

The first fishing fail I want to mention is fishing alone. You should always have at least one fishing buddy with you.

This is especially important with ice fishing. But it applies anytime. People who would never go boating alone sometimes go ice fishing by themselves.

If you’re alone and fall through the ice, there will be no one to save you. And that’s true of any other accident you might have on ice. Including slipping and falling.

Watch out for thin ice

Speaking of falling through ice, here’s something you always want to determine in advance.

You need to know if the ice is thick enough BEFORE to walk on it to start your ice fishing activities.

How cold the weather has been recently is a good barometer of how safe the ice will be to walk on.

But it’s not foolproof. Watch for signs and tread very slowly until you are confident the ice will support your weight.

Choose clear over cloudy

As a general rule, the ice should be at least four inches thick to support your weight. And the weight of your ice fishing gear.

That’s from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. If you’re taking a snowmobile out onto the ice, it should be at least five inches thick.

There should be at least eight to 12 inches of ice if a car is driven onto it. The thickness of the ice should be at least 12 to 15 inches to support a pickup truck.

These guidelines are for new, clear ice. The consistency of cloudy ice makes it less supportive.

Listen for cracking sounds

If there are no signs regarding the ice’s thickness, find a local and ask them. Also, avoid any area where ice appears to be moving, even if slowly.

Avoid ice fishing where snow is on top of the ice. For one thing, that snow adds to the weight on the ice.

For another, snow is warmer than ice. So, it can insulate the ice and warm it slightly, making it less safe.

Don’t fail to keep your ears open. Sometimes the most obvious sign of unsafe ice are cracking sounds. And if there are several people in your party, spread out. That will distribute the weight better.

Life jacket, rope and cleats

Another ice fishing folly is failing to take a life jacket with you. If you break through the ice, that buoyancy could save your life.

Failing to take a rope with you is another fail. And the best rope to take ice fishing is one that includes one or more floats.

Another item you should remember when you go ice fishing are foot cleats. They’ll give you better traction on the ice.

They also make hand cleats you can wrap around your hands with cord so they don’t fall off if you go into the water.

Spikes as neck wear? 

It’s also a good idea to take ice fishing spikes with you. They include two sharp objects connected by rope.

If necessary, you can use them to crawl your way out of water by puncturing the ice. Like a rock climber would do.

This could be a lifesaving piece of equipment. But they won’t do any good if they’re in your bag when you fall into the water.

So, wear them around your neck. Hopefully you’ll never need them. But if you do, they’ll be somewhere you can reach them.

Dress in layers

Next let’s talk about your apparel while ice fishing. Something you always want to wear are sunglasses. Snow and ice blindness are serious issues.

Failing to dress in layers can be a real problem for ice fishermen. It may end up being warmer or colder out on the ice than expected.

With layers, you’re prepared for both and can adjust accordingly. Avoid too much movement, which can produce perspiration. That sweat can dampen your clothes and freeze against your skin.

Forgetting to wear a couple pairs of warm socks and waterproof boots is another ice fishing fail. If your feet get wet, your chances of hypothermia increase.

Take the right gear

There are plenty of other ice fishing fails, but I’ll just mention a few more. One is not getting the proper fishing license. You might face a hefty fine if you don’t.

Another is not bringing enough bait and hooks. If you run out of these, your day will be cut short. And make sure your bait is fresh. Otherwise, fish won’t be interested.

Yet another is failing to pack the gear you need. This includes a rod specific for ice fishing. It’s shorter because you don’t need to cast with it. Just drop your line in the hole.

You also need an augur to bore a hole through the ice and a scoop to keep the hole free of ice. Plus buckets for gear and to sit on, a sled for heavier gear, and pliers for removing fishhooks.  

Using the sun’s power

Finally, don’t forget to take a portable method for cooking the food you plan to eat and hot beverages you want to drink.

You’re going to get hungry and thirsty. And when it’s cold, a few hot dogs and coffee or cocoa will really hit the spot.

Our top recommendation in portable cooking gear is the Sun Kettle.

This "solar furnace" looks like a thermos. But no ordinary thermos harnesses the power of the sun to safely boil water like this. It's so easy, even a kid can use it!

It's great for camping, hiking – heck, even pop a couple hot dogs in there on a fishing trip and before you know it... lunch is served! Just hear how Todd brought his Sun Kettle on a fishing trip:

"I had my Sun Kettle in my supply out on a fishing trip. It was sunny but as it was getting colder a ranger came by to check our fish license as we were preparing a place for a fire when he informed us there was a 'no fire order' in place. So I set up my Sun Kettle, turned it to the sun and went to check my pole. Couldn’t have been 30-45min and it was already at a boil for hot chocolate and coffee. It saved the trip." 

>> See more on the Sun Kettle here

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