Ice fishing shacks at Minnesota lake on a bright winter morning

The Tradition and Frigid Allure of Ice Fishing

Harsh Conditions and Necessity Inspire Ice Fishing

It’s hard to know exactly when people began ice fishing. The technique was practiced by people groups indigenous to what is now the midwest of the United States. Based on available historical records, we know that European settlers first witnessed the practice around 1500 AD. 

Anglers from tribes like the Ojibwa would use metal tools to chip away at the ice, creating holes through which they could fish. They had developed advanced lures carved from wood and bone that mimicked the appearance of baitfish. Anglers would use harpoons to lower the lures into the ice, attract fish, and then quickly catch those fish with their harpoons.

The practice was most likely mastered as a way to access food during the coldest months of the year. Early ice fishing anglers also designed lightweight structures to surround themselves and the fishing hole. The structures blocked light from shining through the hole, further hiding the angler’s presence from the fish. They also helped conserve heat, combating the cold conditions.

This kind of ice fishing is known as “dark house” fishing. It was practiced before modern fishing line was invented. Once fishing lines and rods were introduced, ice fishing evolved to include them. More specialized equipment than ever is available for anglers today.

Don’t Go Out on the Ice without the Essentials

Modern ice fishing trips can be taken with more comfort and convenience than ever. Specialized rods are lightweight and compact, designed to be used within a tight space. Handheld steel augers are used to easily drill holes in the ice, saving time and effort. Ice scoops are used to clear loose ice from the surface of the water, and look like a large kitchen implement.

There are many kinds of equipment designed to help keep you warm during your time on the ice. Handheld hand warmers, spiked boots, and compact portable heaters are essential for ice fishing anglers. If you have ever gone hunting or fishing on a cold day—of course you have—you probably have a good idea what you would bring along with you for hours of ice fishing. We recommend a good bucket and an ice sled to help transport your catch!

Like other kinds of hunting and fishing, ice fishing was invented out of necessity. It has since become a favored pastime for anglers in some of the colder parts of North America. Give it a try, and bring some hot coffee!

More from Romeo Bravo Software