If you asked an angler south of the Mason Dixon line to accompany you on an ice-fishing trip, their single greatest concern would be walking on water. A close second would be staying warm. It’s a fair concern given that temps, especially in the northern portion of the ice-belt, can be absolutely brutal, and that’s before you factor in wind-chill. Still, new technologies and some great engineering have made ice-fishing a very comfortable sport, provided you have the right equipment. Here are some tips on what to use, and how to use it, for the best experience possible when out on the lake this season.
Thermal Tec Fabric
New materials like the Otter ThermalTec provide incredible insulation and eliminates the condensation that makes you feel cool and clammy. A fully quilted thermal inner layer paired with an independent floating outer shell allows for maximum loft, fewer seams, and better heat retention. Otter Pro Chip Leer knows cold weather and fishes comfortably from his Otter in the Leech Lake area. He explains, “Flip the lid, sit down inside, and look at the roof of the shelter for any light. You won’t see it. That means no pin-holes, and a fully sealed shelter.” Whether on a flip-style or hub shelter, the Otter ThermalTec fabric provides the same comfort.
Brad Hawthorne makes a living at keeping clients warm and happy, even in some of the coldest locales Minnesota has to offer. Though most are surprised he doesn’t have a nuclear-powered flame thrower to keep his shelters cozy. “I use a smaller Buddy Heater to keep most of my Otters warm, they just don’t need as much heat,” says Hawthorne. “If anything, clients will turn down the heater instead of complaining about being too cold, and that goes for any of my Otters.”
There really isn’t a bad direction to position your Otter shelter, no matter the wind speed or direction, provided you’re able to “bank” with snow the generous fabric offered outside of the structure of the shelter. In big winds with little snow to work with, Otter Pro Joel Nelson likes to position the back of his shelter quartering towards the wind. “I point either back corner of my XT Pro Thermal Lodge right into a stiff wind and bank just that corner,” says Nelson, “which means the door doesn’t blow open when entering or leaving, and any drifting snow washes around the edges, further sealing out the wind and cold.”
Perhaps the best medicine for a case of the chills is to get moving. Otter Pro and Guide Tony Roach stays warm by drilling plenty of holes and keeping his clients on fish. “I see it all the time,” says Tony, “my clients get cold because they don’t move more than anything, while I’m turning the heat down in my Otter because I just drilled 100 holes.” It just so happens that staying active and looking for fish is a great way to keep the bite going.
No matter where you fish, don’t let Mother Nature scare you indoors. You can’t catch them from the cabin, but we’ll make it just as comfortable!
Tags: Brad Hawthorne, Chip Leer, Joel Nelson, Tony Roach