Hall of Famer Chris Kudak (right-front) says with right clothing and some added heating components, ice anglers can stay warm all day.

Hall of Famer Chris Kudak (right-front) says with right clothing and some added heating components, ice anglers can stay warm all day.

By Chris Kuduk

Back in the old days, surfing the fine line between discomfort and frostbite was part of winter fishing. But with today’s ice fishing innovations, there is no excuse for risking frostbite. New, high-tech materials for clothing, plus refined shelters, heating tools, and safety equipment allow anglers comfort outside all day, even in bitterly cold weather.

Achieving that result requires planning because once your body becomes cold it is nearly impossible to warm back to a comfortable level without retreating inside.  Maintaining heat is more than comfort it is life-and-death.

Part of being safe is to know where you’re going.  During short days of the year darkness approaches quickly. On an overcast day in late December or early January, you’re coping with twilight conditions by mid-afternoon.  A long period of dusk produces more fishing action for walleyes and other species but you can get yourself lost.

Always carry a couple of light sources. Zippo’s new Rugged Lantern works great for locating honey holes.

An added bonus is that any ice angler who uses glow lures knows they demand frequent recharging, and this lantern tunes them up nicely.

Arguably the best tool is a one pair of Zippo’s Hard Warmers for any activity from October through April. Simply fill the hand warmer with lighter fluid and it provides up to 12 solid hours of warmth.  Keep one in each glove and usually another in a muffler.

They burn very clean.  Watching thousands of fish per year on underwater cameras, I have never seen them react to me using these handwarmers. My style of fishing is very hands-on so I avoid big chopper mitts and stick with gloves. That permits holding the line directly to detect subtle bites.  With the Zippo Hand Warmers I can fish all day.

As for more traditional gear, consider shelters. Sure, there are increasingly immaculate permanent houses and some new wheelhouses that cost a bundle. You can enter the shelter market at a significantly lower price point.

Pop-up blinds slice the wind. It is amazing how much heat the wind draws from your body.  Cutting it via a pop-up shelter immediately extends your ice fishing by hours.

Combined with a portable heater and enough fuel you have a recipe for affordable, all-day fishing.

We have come so far from the early days of portable heaters when we melted plastic buckets or clothing by accidentally leaning up against them. Today you do not worry about burning when fishing with a modern ice portable heater.

Even in a heated shelter when exploring and drilling new holes you need a clothing regimen that handles the elements. Two tips are to layer and own quality outerwear.

Regarding the latter, Ice Armor Clothing from Clam is windproof, waterproof and breathable.  It has padded knees and bottom for active, all-day warmth and comfort.

Different Ice Armor suits are available for varying temperature ranges. The company’s new Lift cold-weather suit provides added buoyancy. It is quite advancement in the ice-fishing scene.

Underneath the shell always wear at least two layers of fleece, a flannel shirt, plus some quality long underwear.

We got off to a seriously cold start this year, but that means a long, productive ice fishing season! With the right equipment one is warm even during a challenging winter like 2013-14.

Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame inductee Chris Kuduk is a member of the Ice Team and has guided on Lake Mille Lacs in central Minnesota and surrounding lakes for more than 30 years.


Posted 12/18/2013 by Donald Gasaway in Freshwater Fishing

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