Pulling fish through ice much more fun if you can keep warm
Ice fishing in Illinois can be a hit-and-miss proposition due to the fact that we never know what kind of winter we will get. After a few mild winters, we also tend to forget how to prepare for a really cold season. We found that out during the recent cold snap, which was great for ice anglers who took time to run through the basics.
Something that people often overlook when ice season comes around is their clothing and how they plan on dressing for the ice. Cold weather and winds can end a trip quickly if you are not prepared.
Layering is the key to keeping yourself prepared for the cold. It is a simple process and most of the outdoors population understands the principal, however they don’t often employ the method properly, thus leading to a cold day on the ice.
Everyone knows that cold feet can easily ruin your day out on the water, or ice in this case. Start with a good polypropylene liner sock directly on the skin and then put a good wool sock over the top of that. Cotton is your enemy with any type of base layer as this will not allow your skin to breathe and it traps moisture that will cause you to get cold much quicker.
The base layer should be breathable, and an important part of this first layer is to make sure that you do not wear any cotton underwear or T-shirts underneath it. The base should be directly against your skin as this will wick any moisture away from your body and keep you warm and dry.
On the lower half of your body, I like to recommend wearing a good pair of fleece pants or fleece-lined pants over the base layer. A good wool pant will also work quite well. Both of these fabrics have a property to them that allows them to keep you warm even if they get wet.
The same goes for the upper portion of your body. A good fleece jacket or sweatshirt with a hood will keep you warm. The important thing to remember is that if you keep your core warm (chest and back), you will be able to keep the rest of your body warm as well.
The last layer will consist of a good waterproof, windproof, insulated suit. These suits have padded knees and seats. I like to tell people that instead of having an ice shanty, I am actually wearing my shanty.
Layering allows you to add or remove layers to properly protect you from the elements. You can start off with only a couple of layers as you head out to your fishing spot, and as you begin to cool down, you are able to add layers to keep your body temperature regulated.
Staying warm and dry on the ice will allow you to enjoy your time outdoors much more.