You’ve booked your trip to Put In Bay for icefishing. What should you wear?
The first thought may be to wear everything in your closet, but here’s a much better plan. Because you can only take a limited amount of stuff (fishing gear, clothes, boots, etc.), you’ll want to pack carefully.
Properly dressed for a very cold day ice fishing.
Your first layer (closest to the skin) should be a fast wicking material, so when you perspire, that moisture is moved from your body into a thicker material. Most long underwear meets this requirement while also helping you maintain body heat.
For the next layer on top, a button-up shirt (long-sleeve) can serve two purposes. You can wear it to fish, and you can wear it when out for dinner on the island. A good alternative would be polyester fleece pullover. Be aware you may get too warm at the restaurant.
On the bottom, over your long underwear, most folks wear denim. These will also be just fine at all the restaurants on the island.
When it comes to socks, I like to wear a light-weight pair of cotton socks and then add my heavy boot socks. It is very wise to wear double insulated snow or pack boots while on the ice. For after wear, you may want boots again, as you’ll be hiking around in snow.
For jackets, you should choose something that is waterproof, windproof, and warm. While you’re in the ice shanty, you’ll want to take this off, as your shanty is heated. Alternately, you may choose an insulated vest and lighter weight jacket. That way, if it’s relatively warm on shore, you won’t be bogged down with a heavy coat.
Hats, face protectors and gloves are a must. These protect your most vulnerable body parts (head, neck and hands). For a face protector, a good ski mask works nicely. Get one that isn’t too bulky so it will fold into a jacket pocket or fit around your neck when not needed. Your hat should ideally have ear protectors. Flaps that fold up/down and fasten work nicely. If you wear glasses, a hat with a bill works well, helping to keep snow and ice off your glasses.
Gloves/mittens are really necessary. You’ll probably want more than one pair. At least one pair should be waterproof, and constructed to resist “hooking”. That way your hands are well-protected from the very cold water when landing your fish, and when baiting your hook.
For transport and just “running around” a good pair of insulated ski gloves or mittens work very well.
Some folks like to add a wool scarf for wind protection around their neck during the transport on the airboat and ice trailer.
If you have them, snowmobile bibs and boots are ideal. They are very well insulated, windproof and waterproof.