Those who go ice fishing are obliged to pay strict attention to their clothing. It is possible to spend a balmy day on the ice, especially on a sunny day with a southwest breeze, but such chinooks do not happen frequently. You can always take off extra clothing, but you cannot put it on if you did not bring it.
A warm cap, with ear protection, is absolutely necessary when ice fishing. With wind chills down in the minus numbers, your ears are subject to frost- bite. Some anglers use a balaclava cap for full face protection.
Layers of clothing are suggested, rather than a single heavy jacket and single pair of trousers. A down vest under a wool shirt, coupled with a tightly knit windbreaker or canvas jacket, makes a good outfit. A heavy parka with a sweater beneath it is useful, as long as you remember to unzip the parka when you begin to perspire.
Blue jeans and insulated underwear are barely adequate for a truly cold day on Maine’s frozen lakes or ponds. Flannel-lined jeans and insulated underwear work better, but a pair of solid-wool pants over your jeans or other trousers are best.
Your choice of footwear can make or break your day. Most Maine anglers use pac-style boots, the kind with leather uppers, rubber bottoms, and a removable felt insole. Make sure your boots are rated for at least zero degrees.
If you drive to the frozen lake in your vehicle with your heater on, your feet may sweat, in which case they will become chilled after a short time on the ice. It makes sense to wear light footwear on the way to the lake and put on your pacs just before you venture out on the ice.
While not strictly an article of clothing, a handwarmer can be invaluable while ice fishing or even in early spring fishing. You have a choice of the refillable kind, or the disposable style. Both work well enough to bring the circulation back to stiff digits.
This angler is dressed for the cold; down-lined parka and insulated hat with ear protection. The wind-chill factor on Maine’s frozen lakes often reaches minus 50.