There are no good outcomes when losing your footing on the ice. CLEATS mean that Icemen can stay on their feet when traveling on slick ice. Without cleats, many sports fall, break bones, crack ice, crack heads, or just scare the fish.
I read some posts the other day about fishermen racing to tip ups that have triggered. “Last Man Standing wins” was the mantra! If you add some action traction, you will win more often.
There are many choices on the market. Back in the day, we made ice cleats out of old carpet. To kick the carpet up a notch, we glued them to hard Styrofoam to add insulation. These Super Ice Walkers made us taller, gave a little traction, and maybe kept our toes a bit warmer.
Most fishing stores carry a selection of wrap on, strap on, or lock on ice creepers. The type of Creeper that I often use today can be made at home. Use stiff metal that requires effort to bend. I used my vise and a hammer to fold my spikes. Add a rubber strap and anchor them to the arch of your boot.
When walking with cleats, be certain to step so that the cleats dig in. During the winter, some ice is snow covered and may not require action traction. I still take some along if I need to get off the ice at the shore or if wind blown areas show up.
Warm toes are also important to consider. Make certain you wear boots that are waterproof. It is common for water to flow on top of the ice especially after you cut some holes. Liner socks are lifesavers. These polypropylene liner socks will wick moisture away from your toes. Cover the liners with a heavy pair of long socks that will also cover your calf’s. Toe warmers can also be helpful. These small stick on packets generate heat in low oxygen conditions, like the inside toe of your boots.
Wear knees pads if you spend time on your knees. Carry extra gloves. Layer and stay warmer. Fish longer, better, and smarter. If you are not comfortable, you will not last long on the ice.
“When on thin ice, your safety is in your speed” …if you are still standing.
For more Montana Grant, find him standing at www.montanagrantfishing.com.