In-Fisherman Editor In Chief Doug Stange has, while filming Ice Fishing Guide TV, spent at least 40 days on the ice each of the last three seasons, in all kinds of conditions. We asked him tricks to staying warm while ice fishing.
Stange: "I won't address the obvious — you can sit in an ice shack. You need great clothing and need to layer appropriately underneath the outer shell.
"I use four kinds of handwear. Heavy chopper mittens are for running with snowmobiles and ATVs in the coldest weather. A heavy pair of gloves is for loading and unloading sleds and equipment. A thin pair of mittens is for fishing. This pair of mittens is the missing ingredient for most anglers. Most mittens on the market are too heavy and too restrictive to allow you to fish effectively. These thin mittens also need elastic protection at the wrist line, and most of them don't offer it. Fine-quality thin mittens that allow you to fish just aren't readily available right now. At least I can't find them. I'm still wearing a pair that I bought 8 years ago. I also always wear thin polypropylene gloves with the fingertips cut off. And I slip chemical hand warmers into my handwear, especially the thin mittens.
"To keep my feet warm I use chemical toe warmers or hand warmers in my boots. Most of the toe warmers have an adhesive patch and fit nicely under your toes. With the hand warmers, I place them right under the crotch of my toes. Most of these warmers last 6 or 7 hours, so I replace them about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I also wear thin polypropylene socks under a heavier pair of alpaca socks. Alpaca is as durable as it is warm.
"When the forecast is for extremely bitter weather, I take a 12-hour chemical warmer — one with an adhesive patch if I can find it — and place it right in the center of my upper back, just below my neck, on the outside of my shirt and long johns. If I can't find one with an adhesive patch, I use duct tape. I usually do this right before leaving the motel in the morning. At times these patches get so hot you have to place them on the outside of your vest instead of your shirt. Anytime you get cold during the day, even placing a smaller hand warmer on the back of your neck warms you pretty quickly. This hot pack on your neck and back is the final miracle solution to staying warm in the toughest conditions."