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Icefishing Erie Gear / Walleye

Swanton, Ohio
I will start by saying this is going to be a fairly long thread. I am going to start with safety gear first. I am going to be long winded and explain why I carry what I do. I have added and subtracted stuff from this list over the years and this is what I feel is my minimum safety gear for fishing the big water.
Here is the pic, make sure you look at it because it took me like a dozen tries and a fucking ladder to get the pic:smiley_crocodile:

From the top left.
1) Extra hats. You never know when you might loose yours, it gets wet, or someone shows up unprepared. All of you know how much heat is lost through your mellon.

2) Mittens. Gloves are great but if your hands get really cold the best way to warm them is mittens. Two years ago Haleybrock and I were on a hot bite and I went gloveless for quite some time. By the time I realized how cold my hands were it was too late. My pinkie had ice on it and it blistered like a severe burn, turned black, and I lost most of the skin.

3) Handwarmers. Not only can they be used for both hands and feet they can also be placed agianst the kidneys or other places in an emergency situation to help warm someone who is in trouble.

4) Flashlights. Goes without saying if you are going to be out past dark you need them. More importantly what if you don't plan on being out past dark and need to work on a machine?? Light makes people feel comfortable. Panic is a bad plan, I carry at least 3 light sources. They seem to fail at the worst time, best have backups.

5) Duct Tape. What can't be fixed with this stuff??? Need I say more??

6) Bungee Cords. Agian limitless uses. I have used them to secure a loose tire chain, carry fish, or hold a machine together. I carry a dozen extras.

Middle of Pic.
7) Spud Bar. Anyone who icefishes anywhere is foolish not to have one. This is by far the safest and most effective way to check the ice. If the ice won't take 2 hits with a spud bar it is not going to hold you and your gear. I see FAR too many fisherman who venture out without one. To me its one of the most important pieces of equipment. It can and will save your life. If the ice moves when you are out there you may have to find a new route in, a spud is the only way to find that route. The spud pictured was my Grandfathers, I started fishing Erie with him when I was 8. I wish that spud could talk, it has to be close to 50 or more years old.

Bottom left of Pic

8) Ice Picks. You will seldom see me on ANY ice without a pair on the OUTSIDE of my clothing. They are useless if they are under your coat. You want they where you can get at them. I have never used mine but years ago I wished I had them, its a bitch getting out of the water without them. You can makea pair out of sharpened screwdrivers if your life is not worth spending 4 bucks on them.

9) Ice Creepers. If you gotta walk, you need them. Ask a buddy who will not be named that had to be airlifted off of Crane Creek some years back when he slipped and broke his leg in 3 places after a fall trying to cross some shove ice.

10) Jerky. My nonicefishing buddies always give me a hard time about riding the ice to Canada. I like to carry 2-4lbs of jerky and tuna in my gear. If I am stuck out there I want something to knaw on. I also carry candy bars for quick energy. My son is diabetic so extra carbs are a must have for us. There are no carryouts 5 miles offshore.

11) Compass. Next to the spud, to me this is the second most important piece of equipment. I followed an "expert" out some years ago that got us lost in the fog. I "knew" we were headed the wrong way but forgot my compass. I finally just said I was going no further until the fog lifted. We were almost 3 miles off course. I will NEVER go out without one. Years after that mess I was fishing solo 4+ miles out when a whiteout moved in. I rode in after dark very slowly, 275 degrees SW was my heading. I'll never forget that number, I was scared shitless. I trusted the compass and made it in. Compass. I know the GPS's are all the rage and a great tool but they are mechanical and can fail. Batteries die, it breaks, gets lost, or whatever. I tried the GPS off Cawtaba years ago. The wind picked up and the snow poured down. What was a 30 minute ride out turned into a 3 hour ride in fighting drifts. The batteries died in my GPS about halfway in. We shoveled, pushed, and fought our machines in. It was good there were 8 of us to take turns wrestling stuck machines. It was a battle in the dark coming in. My compass still worked. I carry at least 2, one in my shanty and one on my person. Do yourself a favor and buy three, cheap insurance.

12) Extra Propane. I carry enough to spend the night out there if I need to. Agian Haleybrock was with me and the quad battery died. We were the furthest and last ones out. He asked WTF are we gonna do?? I told him try and call a buddy, if not there is enough heat to last until noon tomorrow. We will be the first on the ice in the am

13) Small Lantern. Not only does it provide light but also decent heat if your heater takes a shit.

14) Boat Bumper/50' Rope. If someone goes in you need to be able to help from a distance. I have practiced with my throw rig and am confident I can send them the floating bumper from 25'+ if I need to.

15) First Aid Kit. Does this really require a description??

16) Just Starter/Cables. The night HB and I almost got into trouble the quad battery drained and would not start. Lucky I got ahold of a buddy and he came out to help. You know its a good buddy if he will drive 45 minutes to the lake and run 7 miles out to help your dumbass. I don't like to depent on anyone but myself. If its really a battery draining cold out I carry the jump pack. Jumper cables at a minimum.

17) Extra Gas. I still have not bought a flat fuel cell, but extra fuel is a good idea. If you venture out with less than a full tank you are a fucktard. Alot of the guys that got stranded 2 years ago had no choice but to wait for help, they did not have enough gas to make the 24 mile run around the open crack. I topped off my machine that morning and still had to bum a 1/2 gallon to get HB, Mully, and myself in. Do be a douche, fuel up before you go.

18) Tow Strap. You or someone may need to be towed in, have a strap.

ice safety gear.jpg
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I agree with everything you have there expect for the chew lol

One thing I will say , Randy is right about the spud bar 100%

No need for a fancy one
Mine is homemade , but it works just the same

I will watch this post

Thanks for taking the time

Swanton, Ohio
A few other things that I forgot to dig out that are good to have are emergency space blankets and a short handled shovel.

A few more things worth mentioning. As with any outdoor adventure make sure you let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. This cuts alot of time off of potential rescue if they know where to start. I still get chills thinking about a solo night trip off Camp Perry when I heard the helo take off. A guy went in off PIB, they knew where he was and were able to save him.

DO NOT think help is a cell call away. The service a few miles out sucks balls, you might have a 50/50 chance of it working. Remeber bitter cold is hell on batteries of all kinds.

Some of you may be wondering why I have not mentioned "float suits". I don't have one. This may be the year I may be smart enough to get one. I never bought one because I think they would give me too much of a false sense of security. In years past I took stupid chances without one and figured if I had one I would push my luck even further. I think I have finally gotten over having to be one of the first out there and last one in. I will probably own one before the end of this season.

I am no expert, nor do I profess to be. I just love fishing out there and want to be as safe as I can. I have three kids and a wife that count on me, I want to come home. That being said when I got back into icefishing Erie I upped my life insurance to $500,000.

When it gets good (as far as good ice, not the fishing) I am happy to take others with me. If I have any question about the safety of the ice don't be pissed if I won't take you. I'll fish alone or with my hardcore buddies but I won't risk anyone else's life, it just gets too ugly too fast out there to fugg around. Two years ago I put a couple buddies in a bad position, if something bad would have happened I would never forgive myself. Not gonna happen agian if I can help it. That being said even under the best condition shit can go bad, you all have been warned:smiley_boos:
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Senior Member
I know nothing about ice fishing (never been) but I really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing your gear, it's cool to learn from someone who clearly knows what they are doing.
Swanton, Ohio
Thanks Ernie!

A few more things I wanted to add before I get into the actual fishing gear. One thing I forgot and may add when I take pictures of my rig is planks. They are not a bad idea if you can haul them, makes crossing open leeds far less dangerous.

This may piss some guys off but don't expect alot of fishing reports from me until the season is over. If I see some hairy shit guys need to watch out for I will certainly give a heads up. But I will almost never post where I am fishing. Years ago I was fishing a shakey at best piece of ice and posted it on another forum. Within days there were tons of guys fishing there. I have no problem sharing my spot but it was downright dangerous to fish there. Within days of me posting how we did and where we were at there were a bunch of guys there. That was fine until the south wind blew. I canceled my vacation day and went to work. Others went anyway, there was only a VERY SMALL window of time to get off before it was too late. The "locals" for the most part got off, the guys that "internet fished" did not know to get off. That was the last big rescue before 2 years ago. Google it, a bunch had to be pulled off by the Coast Gaurd. I am not going to feel like I am responsible for sending a bunch of guys out there that should not be. I am not trying to be a dick, I just don't want anyone with an icefishing rod and a quad to think "hey, the bite is on lets go!!"


Active Member
Norton, OH
Good stuff Randy. I definitely want to go out there with you, I think it would be an experience for sure, even if the fish aren't biting. Until you posted "before I get into the fishing gear" I was gonna say, dang, how ya catch feesh wif a spud bar? lol
Sorry guys, I have been busy as hell the last week or so. I Have a bunch of pics on my camera, I just need to find time to post them and the write up. I'll try and get to the lures next because it is starting to get going out there. I just wanna do this thread justice and not rush myself or I will forget something important:smiley_boos:
Swanton, Ohio
These pics just did not come out too good.

I'll start with what has been a staple on Erie for me. The Swedish Pimple. I prefer the smaller sizes unless the water is dirty or the current is heavy. Blaze orange has caught more fish than the others but the green prism taped, the flouro green, glow, anf blue prism have all alsocaught fish. I start with my "go tos" and try others from there. I want to have every color because you never know what might be hot that day. misc 005.jpg
Swanton, Ohio
In the top of the pic are more of my favorite colors of pimples. In the bottom box are a couple Do-Jiggers, I've never caught a fish on one of these. Below that are Buckshot Jigs, they have a rattle in them and I have caught a few on these but I remember years agoa guy was catching them as fast as he could drop it down the hole and I did not have any. That won't happen agian:smiley_bril: misc 007.jpg
Swanton, Ohio
Another lure that I have seen absolutely kill the fish is the Cicada. Agian I did not have any. I bought some and 2 years ago they were the go to lure. The blue/silver caught fish with no bait, it was almost silly at times how well they worked. The Cicada also caught fish last year in the few times I got out.

misc 006.jpg