Ice Fishing Tips for Your Winter Camping Adventure in Nebraska

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Blog | Comments Off on Ice Fishing Tips for Your Winter Camping Adventure in Nebraska

imagesThe days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. While the cold weather hasn’t come quite yet, it’ll be here before we know it. That’s why we’ve put together this list of ice fishing tips for the beginner. Nebraska is full of winter activities and winter camping can be a wonderful experience. By following these ice fishing tips, you’ll be able to incorporate ice fishing as part of your winter camping experience. Our ice fishing tips will help those would-be ice anglers get started in the sport without investing a tremendous amount of money on their next winter camping adventure.

Ice Fishing Mindset

First, it’s important to understand why people ice fish. There are a number of reasons why people enjoy ice fishing and, like many activities, they vary from person to person. This ice fishing tip explains why. The primary reason many people enjoy ice fishing, whether they’re on a winter camping trip or not, is because winter is the best time to target a certain species of fish.

These fish like to swim in the in the deepest portions of lakes and ponds during the tradition open fishing season. To catch these tricky swimmers, it usually requires a person to have a boat equipped with a sonar unit, downriggers, and other specialized equipment, most of which is expensive. However, once the surface of the lake freezes to a safe thickness in the winter, anyone who can walk can access prime fishing territory. Because these species thrive in cold water, they are just as active (if not more so) during the winter months as they are during the warmer months. They also move to shallower, easier to fish regions of lakes and ponds. Snagging that trophy catch in July will likely require thousands of dollars of equipment, but during the winter all you need is a hook, line, and a hole in the ice.

Get the Gear

Just like any other outdoor activity, the gear you choose for ice fishing can be as simple and inexpensive or as expensive and complicated as you want. However, we’ve got some ice fishing tips for the beginner to start off with.

Make a Hole in the Ice

We wouldn’t be giving you very good ice fishing tips if we didn’t help you solve the first problem, which is, breaking through the ice. If you’re just beginning in your ice fishing career, the most practical and safest tool for the job is a hand operated or powered ice auger. Gasoline, propane, and electric power augers are available through most hunting/fishing retailers but typically cost a couple hundred dollars or more. A power auger will save a great deal of labor if you’re drilling multiple holes through thick ice, but they’re heavy and require fuel or large batteries and aren’t immune to mechanical failure.

If you’re a beginner, follow our ice fishing tips and invest in a hand-operated auger. A good hand auger can be purchased for less than $100. If you’re determined, a hand auger with sharp blades can bore through 12-inches of ice in less than a minute.

Rods, reels, and tip-ups

An ice fishing rod, also called a jigging rod or jigging stick resembles a miniature version of an open water rod/reel setup. The short length of the rod (typically 18 to 24 inches) allows you to use the rod within the confines of an ice tent or shelter.  The reels for these setups are identical to reels on warm water rods and are wound with the same monofilament or braided lines. Ice buildup on the line, guides, and in the spool is inevitable. However, you can mitigate the buildup to a degree with application of unscented mineral oil to the line and guides.

Alternatively, you can use a tip-up. A tip-up is a device equipped with a reel of line set to trigger a spring-loaded flag when you get a bite. There are a number of makes and models available but beware of the ultra-inexpensive models often found in ice fishing starter kits. They’re usually poorly made, don’t hold enough line, and are unlikely to last through the season.

Lures, Baits, and Rigs

Just like with open water fishing, your selection of lures will depend upon the species you’re targeting. Generally, varying sizes and styles of jigs are good for ice fishing because they don’t rely on casting and retrieving.

Clothing and comfort items

Selecting appropriate clothing for winter camping (or any outdoor winter activity) is essential and ice fishing is no different. Ice fishing tips for selecting the right clothing is similar to any other outdoor winter activity. Ice fishing consists of periods of activity (walking to a fishing spot, drilling holes) followed by periods of inactivity (watching tip-ups, jigging). Because you’ve worked up sweat and that sweat is now soaked in your clothing, you have an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation on your hands.

This ice fishing tip is similar to a winter hiking or winter camping tip. Bring extra articles of clothing to replace sweat-soaked items. Avoid cotton fabrics, dress in layers, and keep hand and foot warmer packets as part of your ice fishing kit.


Safety should be your number one concern with any winter camping activity or outdoor winter activity. The number of ice fishing fatalities every year is statistically nonexistent and almost all ice fishing deaths could have been prevented with a dose of common sense. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has a guide to safe ice conditions and an interactive map for your reference.

The Sandhills of Nebraska are a great place for winter camping and winter activities, like ice fishing. By following our ice fishing tips, you’re sure to have an ice fishing adventure you’ll remember for ages. The Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental offers your perfect escape to enjoy the Sandhills of Nebraska for your winter hunting and fishing trips. Give us a call at (308) 546-2206 or 1 (888) 278-6167 or contact us here. Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook, and we hope to see you soon!