ACTION TRACTION!!! Chillin and Drillin Series#6
By Montana Grant

Posted: December 17, 2022

Staying upright on slick ice can be a challenge. No one wants to fall on hard ice and break a bone or have another injury. Falling on the ice also scares the fish and makes you look stupid!

Not all ice is super slick. If the ice has some snow or ice chunks on top, you may not need to worry as much about falling and busting your butt. Smooth slick ice is another story. Add some wind and things get even harder. The worst combination is when you get a foot or so of snow on top of slush, on top of ice. Usually, the slush holds until you put your weight onto it, then you sink. This condition wears you out in a hurry.

Years ago, I was ice fishing on a lake full of perch. We were allowed to use minnows on this lake and the bite was on. I had 3 rods on the ice with a double minnow rig. This was in the early days before we had all the cool gear we have now. I had made little mounds of ice to elevate my rod.

The bites came in waves. For 15 minutes, nothing, then yahoo, grab your rods. The school was moving, so if you get land a fish and get rebaited, you could catch more fish before they moved on. My rods were spread out which meant that I had to get to them before the huge pair of perch dragged them into the holes.

My butt went down a dozen times, as I ran to grab my double perch rigged rods. How I didn’t break any bones was just luck. We filled a bucket with yellow perch, but I was sore and black and blue.

Walking on water requires some special gear. Here are some ideas. 

                Outdoor carpet    My first attempt to add traction was by cutting indoor/outdoor carpet and strapped them to my combat boots. My Dad cut big rubber bands from old tire inner tubes. We wrapped them around our boots to secure the carpet on. Later we also added a layer of Styrofoam between the boot tread and carpet to also add insulation. The carpet helped with slipping; the Styrofoam just made you taller. No glue seemed to last too long.

                Cleats and Chains   Commercial cleats are worth the price. They are attached with straps or by a bungy rubber tension cord. Some are designed to fit just in front of the heel at the boot arch. These large teeth grip great, but you need to modify your walking to allow them to hit the ice. Others fit over the boots’ entire footprint and give great traction.

Wading boots with traction screws    On one trip, I forgot my ice boots. Fortunately, my Simms G-3 wading boots were in the truck. I still had layers of socks and just used my Simms. The soles had screw in metal studs that really worked well to gain traction. They were not as warm as my Pac boots, but I did not fall onto the hard water.

You may also want to consider anchoring your sled and ice shanty. A screw spike/ anchor will do the trick. I remember watching an Iceman run across Canyon Ferry chasing down his windblown half shanty sled. The flip up windbreak was acting like a sail. It went for miles!

Ice fishing is hard and miserable enough without falling, slipping, and sliding. Finding all advantages helps Icemen stay on the hard water longer, and more comfortable, and safer.

Stay tall on the ice!

Montana Grant



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