Go easy on new ice fishing gear — stick to the basics

If you can’t stand the thought of waiting several more months to go fishing again, keep in mind you can fish all year long in Wyoming. All you need is the right ice fishing gear.

I love fishing, even though I’m not very good at it. I get skunked on most of my fishing expeditions. But that’s OK. I really go fishing just to get out of the house and deep into the backcountry. Fishing is just an excuse to get out there.

But this time of year, I lose that excuse. So I’ve been thinking of adding some ice fishing gear to my inventory. I may still get skunked every time I go fishing, but at least I can go fishing more often.

If you’re looking at getting into ice fishing, you can easily go overboard on the gear you’ll get talked into buying. Sure, you could blow your savings on a portable fishing hut, seventeen kinds of tip-ups and ice fishing rods, and an electric auger. Or you could go even bigger and get an ice castle, which is basically a camper with a removable floor and wheels that articulate up to allow the RV to sit flat on the ice. I would not recommend one of those for ice fishing in Wyoming.

To get started, all you really need are the basics. You’ll need an auger to get through the ice. A hand-operated auger will work just fine. You’ll need a slush scoop to keep the ice out of the hole, and you’ll need a rod that works for ice fishing and a reel that is made to resist the cold temperatures. You might already have those in your fishing gear, but if not, you don’t have to spend a ton on them. A couple of tip-ups would be handy, too, and you should rig your reel and your tip-ups with ice fishing line instead of whatever you use in the warmer months. It’ll resist freezing better than the summer stuff. A bucket is good to have to carry your gear and use as a seat, and you’ll want to take your warmest clothes and waterproof boots and gloves when you go.

If you decide you enjoy ice fishing, get the sled, the ice hut, and the other goodies later. For now, just stick with the basics.