Ice Fishing With Kids: 7 Essential Tips

Guest Contributor // December 2

Ice fishing with kids is an incredible way to experience a cold winter's day while hopefully reaping the benefits of your adventure by reeling in a few fish. Today we’re going to walk you through seven simple ice fishing tips to make the entire experience more enjoyable and increase your chances of success. 

Find Safe Ice: Remember to Keep Them Protected 

Locating safe ice is priority number one whenever hitting the ice. Look for reports from other anglers, and physical proof of thick ice. A spud bar, a heavy iron bar used to check ice thickness, will help dictate whether it’s safe to venture out onto the ice. Taking a handful of hard whacks with the tip of your spud bar in the same spot without it breaking through will ensure safe ice. But if you’re unsure, follow a guide for the first time. 

Ice Fishing Tips for Kids #1: Dress Warm 

It might seem obvious, but dressing for the conditions is vitally important to ensure a successful day on the ice. Starting with a good set of base layers, and then adding warmer mid-layers like a hooded sweatshirt, fleece pullover, or in-between garments. Then, finally, finish off with a warm heavy coat or jacket that is water resistant.

Warm winter boots paired with a pair of thick wool socks will ensure toasty toes all day long. Winter fishing bibs or a good pair of snow pants will let you bend down on the ice and not get wet. 

Ice Fishing Tips for Kids #2: Target Species You’re Confident In

Instead of targeting trophy-sized fish that may only bite once a day, choose a species or lake better known for producing numbers. Most kids just want to catch a fish, so putting them on a pile of panfish or chasing after flags for northern pike all day will be much more memorable than grinding it out for a single bite. 

Take a kid ice fishing to wherever you think you have the absolute highest chance of catching fish and then go from there. It’s best to get some fish under their belt and keep them engaged. 

Ice Fishing Tips for Kids #3: Use Live Bait

The natural wiggling and attracting action from a natural dangling wax worm, fathead minnow, shiner, or suckerfish are hands down the best way to attract a fish through the ice when hitting the water with kids. While you are occupied answering the endless questions that come with taking a kid ice fishing, your live bait will be putting in work and attracting bites under the ice. 

Running tip-ups for northern pike or walleye and setting those out first is a great way to pick up a quick bite while you are setting up chairs, shacks, and everything else involved with a day of ice fishing.

Ice Fishing Tips for Kids #4: Bring Snacks

Any seasoned angler will agree that having a good set of snacks is the best way to boost morale during the inevitable lulls involved with ice fishing. A thermos filled with your favorite warm beverage and a bag full of tasty snacks is a must-have on the ice. 

Ice Fishing Tips for Kids #5: Pick A Warm-ish Day

While you can't choose the weather, you can be selective on the day you decide to take a kid ice fishing for the first time. Opt for a warmer day if you’re fishing outside, but if you’re lucky enough to have a shanty to fish from, remember to bring extra propane to keep those kids toasty all day long. 

Ice Fishing Tips for Kids #6: Pick A Good Age 

It’s possible to bring a two-year-old to ice fish. Most would agree that it’s best to wait until an angler reaches 4-5 years old to ensure a positive experience for all.

Let’s face it. Any endeavor with a group of young kids will be an undertaking. So, while ice fishing with a pack of wild hooligans might seem out of the picture, it’s much more approachable than you might think. Start with a good day, warm clothes, and a positive attitude and you’ll make incredible memories. Oh yeah, don’t forget about the live bait.  

For additional tips, recommendations, and safety guidelines, visit For the gear you need before heading out on the ice, you can check out

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