Happy New Year! I do wish you a great and prosperous 2019, with lots of time outdoors!
Before we get too deep into the year, check your hunting and fishing permits, boat registration and park entry sticker. Are you ready for 2019? Make sure you get everything up to speed and legal before you go afield again.
When you are fishing out on the ice this winter, safety should be the first concern. I believe in an old adage, there is no such thing as “safe” ice. There are a lot of factors that can affect ice conditions. Water flowing under the ice, warm water springs under the ice, ground water flow and bottom composition can all impact ice thickness.
Do you know what the number one injury associated with icefishing happens to be? From the data collected (and all states do this differently, some not at all), falls are by far the biggest cause of injuries. Lots of broken wrists, ribs and a few broken hips…you need to get a grip on the ice.
Think about your icefishing activity. You’re standing on ice (a slippery substance) and there is often water on the surface of the ice from auger use. Slipping and falling on a surface like this can be quite easy, so what can you do to prevent it?
There are a number of commercial products made so you can get a better “grip” on the ice with your feet. They range from rubber straps with studs that you stretch over your boots to spiked sandals that strap to the bottom of whatever shoes you are wearing. Prices range from generally $15 to sometimes $50.
Here an outdoor hint. Check through your gear and see if you have an old or extra pair of pac boots. Pac boots are made for cold weather and generally have a waterproof foot, perfect for icefishing!
Quite often you’ll have a pair of boots like this that have been pushed back into a corner because you’ve gotten better foot ware or the insulated liner is wearing out. Don’t throw away any boots like this……upgrade them!
Now if the insulating liner is in need of replacing…..do it. The next step in making a great pair of icefishing boots involves sheet metal screws. The hex head and sharp edges of a sheet metal screw is perfect for biting into the ice and giving you plenty of traction.
I had a pair of Sorels that I turned into icefishing boots this way. I started by buying a box of number 6 screws, about 3/8-inch long. A box of 100 was about $4…enough screws to do two pair of boots. I also bought a nut driver to make the job easier for about $6.
Once you have the screws and a way to put them in, simply look at the bottom of your pac boots and figure out where you want to put the screws. Set your screws in the lugs on the bottom of your boots. These “thicker” areas are the first part of the sole to come in contact with the ice. They are also the thickest part of the so your screw won’t go through the sole.
I just set the screws in a pattern that would provide the most grip on the ice. Each boot you make will be different because tread patterns are different. What I looked for was a pattern that spread the screws out across the broadest area to get the most traction for the boot.
The end result is a pair of boots that will keep your feet warm, dry and sure-footed at the same time. Total cash outlay for this project….less than $10. Not a bad outdoor hack!
Have a great 2019 outdoors!