Ice Fishing for Newbies

My experience as a fresh-out-of -the-pond fisherwoman.

In this first month of 2023, I recently decided to purchase my New Hampshire Fishing license. After spending countless hours on the sidelines watching my boyfriend, an avid (some would say obsessed) fisherman, throw cast after cast, I felt compelled to participate in the sport. It felt a little more empowering compared to just being the pack mule, hauling all of the gear. The following are the tips and tricks I’ve learned from spending several days on the New Hampshire ice:

1. Ice fishing season in NH usually falls between December and April, but ultimately depends on the accumulation of ice that year. A license is required and certain rules apply. Check out your state’s Fish and Game website for up-to-date info on protocols and limits.

2. Always test your ice before walking or applying a considerable amount of weight. 4-6 inches of ice is safe for walking and anything around 8-10 or above is safest for snowmobiles. Darker colored and solid ice that you can see through is actually safer and thicker than white ice. You can test out the thickness before walking or pulling sleds with a tool called a spud bar. This is just a rod with chisel on the end that is stabbed into the ice. It’s best to follow only these tracks when walking around on the lake or pond. Avoid going out immediately after warm days or lots of rain.

3. Dress like a marshmallow. You want to be as warm and dry as possible if you’re going to be spending a large amount of time on a frozen lake. Layer up and choose waterproof clothing, boots, and gloves. Pack spare clothes just in case. Spikes for your shoes are definitely recommended for avoiding slips and falls on the ice. It’s also a good idea to have a pair of ice picks on your person, should you happen to break through the ice. For the ladies, there are specific “drop-seat” bibs that make responding to nature’s call A LOT more convenient than completely undressing.

4. Utilize your sled. To avoid trudging back and forth to your vehicle, pack everything you’ll need in your sled. Snacks, drinks, toilet paper, fishing poles, bait, spoons and lures, ice scoops, ice augur, buckets, chairs, blankets, etc.

5. Have fun! This is a pretty uneventful sport (until a fish is caught) but the buildup and prep work is exciting. We like to grab a pack of our favorite local beer to sip and enjoy our time with nature. Underwater cameras are neat for viewing your catch before they surface. You’re honestly so invested that time flies on the ice. These are good days to pack a lunch, because if you’re like us, you’ll likely be out from dawn to dusk.

First fish on Squam Lake NH

To follow along on my fishing endeavors, check out my Instagram page @dancinggibby

One response to “Ice Fishing for Newbies”

  1. PopPops would be proud 🐠


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