When taking young children on an ice fishing expedition, planning is the key to retaining your sanity. Taking children anywhere can be a daunting task, but taking them onto the ice in the middle of nowhere can be a whole different experience.
To keep your children safe and happy while on the ice, it is important to have the proper equipment as well as plenty of food, water, and warm beverages. Always be sure the ice is safe before taking the whole family out.
The following article will go into detail on how to ice fish with small children while maintaining your sanity.
Maintaining Safety and Sanity on the Ice with Small Children
The following section will give you some tips to keep your kiddos safe and happy while preserving your sanity.
Avoid Drilling Larger Fishing Holes
If you plan on taking your small children on an ice fishing trip, consider leaving the 10” auger at home and stick to a smaller size around 6” for safety reasons.
A larger hole leaves the potential for accidental slips into the hole, which not only will leave your little one with a wet boot but can also lead to a twisted ankle or broken leg.
Bring a Comfortable Ice Fishing Shelter
The best thing you can do is invest in a small tent or portable ice fishing shelter.
This will allow your little ones to warm up and also give them a place to hang out if they get bored. They’ll love playing with the zippers of the shelter and helping set up and take down the ice shelter.
Check the Ice
The first and most important thing to do before dragging the whole family and all of your gear onto the ice is to check it first to be sure it is thick enough and there are no thin spots your children could wander onto and fall in.
If you are not sure if it is safe, check with the locals or your fish and game department to see what their ice report says. Never risk it if you are not sure.
How to Check for Safe Ice Conditions
Jigging and Tip-ups
Once you have found the ideal spot to set up, you can drill more holes. Set up some tip-ups as well as keep a few holes open for jigging.
This will keep the children entertained as well as teach them valuable fishing techniques.
Proper Clothing for the Little Ones
Be sure to dress your little ones with plenty of warm layers. It is always better to have too many layers than not enough. Bringing an extra set of socks and boots for each child can also be a lifesaver if they do get wet.
It may be a pain to lug the extra gear, but in the end, you will likely be glad you did. Also, if you see them running around a lot, remove some of the heavier outer layers until they have calmed down. Getting sweaty when on the ice can be just as dangerous as getting wet.
Another thing that can keep your little fishers happy is a pair of cheap sunglasses. The snow and reflection on the ice can be blinding at times and they will appreciate being able to see without squinting the entire time.
Protip: Layer your boots with plastic bags to add extra protection from the wet and cold.
Sustenance: Bring Plenty of Food
What is one of the most annoying sounds in the world? It is the sound of a child complaining that they are hungry five minutes after they have just eaten everything you brought on the trip.
How do you combat this issue? Bring food. Lots and lots of food. Children are always hungry and when you get outdoors on the ice something happens inside of them. They become ravenous beasts that can not be satiated.
When you think you have packed enough food, pack some more. You will be very happy with your decision. It is important to pack plenty of water and if possible a few thermoses with hot drinks like cocoa or tea.
Watch the Weather
We all know it will be cold when you go ice fishing, however, it is important to keep an eye on the weather and temperatures. Some of the worse weather makes for the best ice fishing conditions however, it might not be the best day to take small kids with you.
Even the most bundled-up child has a risk of frostbite or hypothermia. Be sure you know what the weather conditions are that you have the proper gear and equipment to handle it.
Wear Ice Cleats
This is a super helpful tip for anyone, especially for those who plan on hauling the whole family out on the ice. To prevent slipping and increase your speed as you walk on the ice, invest in a pair of slip-on ice cleats for everyone who plans on going.
They fit right over your boots and make walking a hundred times easier, especially if you are hauling gear and small children around.
Another thing that can come in handy is to bring a long rope. It can be used if someone does fall in the water but can also be used to set boundaries for small children. Lay the rope in an area where you want them to stay and make sure they know not to go past that line without an adult.
Ok, I know what you’re thinking, sunscreen in the middle of winter? It is a good idea to bring sunscreen along on an ice fishing trip. The sun and reflection from the snow and ice can burn little faces without you realizing it.
Keeping the Kiddos Happy Ensures a Sane Return
Now that you know the lowdown on what it’s like to take small children on an ice fishing trip you can properly pack your gear and head out on the ice for a trip that is sure to make memories and give your children an educational experience that they will look forward to every year.