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Ice fishing presents anglers with some unique issues, so the MinnAqua staff have put together a few tips and assembled several resources to assist you on a weekend expedition with an enthusiastic young angler.

Go ahead. Use these tips and follow the links to additional information and activities when you take a kid ice fishing!

Ice Fishing Education Events

Take a Kid Ice Fishing Logo

Ice Fish for Free

January 16-18, 2016

Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Weekend: Residents fish or spear fish for free when accompanied by a child age 15 or under.

Catch some quality family time and plan a special ice fishing weekend.

There are a variety of organized fishing opportunities throughout the state during Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend. See below.




Tettegouche State Park

Ice Fishing on Mic Mac Lake


Lake Carlos State Park

Ice Fishing Frenzy


Lake Bronson State Park

Take A Kid Ice Fishing Clinic


Fort Snelling State Park

Parent/Child Ice Fishing


Glacial Lakes State Park

Ice Fishing Frenzy


Fort Snelling State Park

Ice Fishing

Find more events.

Helpful Links & Fun Stuff For Kids

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Video of 2008 Hmong Take-a-kid ice fishing event on Keller lake, St. Paul. Video courtesy of Minnesota Bound. This presentation requires the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

Kids on St. Paul's Keller Lake
Video courtesy of Minnesota Bound


The Right Clothing Keeps Anglers Warm and Dry

Parent with toddler

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Basic Safety Gear for Your Ice Fishing Trip

  • Hot chocolate & snacks: Keep anglers happy.
  • Band-aids: Patch hook pricks or minor cuts.
  • Hand warmers: Warm hands and feet.
  • Personal flotation device on rope (seat cushion-type): To rescue someone if they fall in the water.
  • Sled with attached rope: Carry gear and/or a person, if necessary.
  • Wool blanket or sleeping bag: Warm anyone who gets wet or cold.
  • Cell phone: Make calls for help.
  • Ice rescue claws: One set per person for self-rescue in case of falling through the ice. You can even make your own.
  • Sunscreen & Sunglasses: Sunburn is caused from sunlight not heat, glare from the ice and snow intensifies the sunlight and the potential for sunburn.
Ice claws

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Fishing Equipment

Tip up

Ice fishing scoop
  • Auger: Without this, you can't drill a hole through the ice. Sharp hand augers work well ... you don't need a power auger unless you're drilling many holes for many anglers.
  • Tip-Ups: Special fishing "poles" for ice fishing. There are several types but basically one stick holds the device above the hole and the second stick has the line and hook/weight or jig attached to it.
  • Drilling a hole in the ice with a hand auger
  • Jiggle Stick: Nothing more than a really short fishing pole used to move (jig) the bait up and down to attract fish. This is a technique usually used for panfish such as crappie and bluegill but can work with other species.
  • Tackle: Don't pull out your summer tackle box. For tip-ups, heavyweight braided line and jigs with different colored heads work well. Leaders are seldom needed, even for northern pike. For jiggle sticks (or those really short fishing poles), use clear ice fishing line of 2 to 4 pound test. Generally speaking, lighter line is better – it'll be easier to recognize when a fish bites.
  • Bait: Live minnows work well for walleye and northern. Use smaller minnows for crappie. Waxworms and nightcrawlers/worms can entice sunfish. Panfish also like spikes and eurolarvae, which look like small colored waxworms.
  • Scoop: A big ladle with holes in it. Use it to scoop a minnow out of the bait bucket and keep your holes clear of ice.
  • Sled: Almost always a necessity for hauling gear to your spot. Use a stable, wide sled with edges to keep things from falling off.
  • Bucket: The five-gallon kind. In fact, bring several. They can be used as seats (with or without special "lids" you can find at many sporting good stores) and are a great place to stow your catch.
  • Shelter: If you've got one, bring it. Kids like to get in out of the cold. If you use any sort of heater inside the shelter, know what you're doing and be careful of carbon monoxide.

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Keeping Kids Warm & Alert

  • Bring a hand auger and have kids try to make a hole.
  • Bring a Frisbee or play freeze tag if there is snow on the ice.
  • Drink warm sweet liquids, avoid alcohol.
  • Bring a variety of bait to try out.
  • Bring an underwater camera with a viewing cable that can be fed through your ice fishing hole.

Beware of Accidents Other Than Falling Though the Ice


Preventive Measures

Slipping on the ice

Wear boots with rubber soles. Don't run on the ice.

Stepping in a hole

Set boundaries. Watch where you step. Look for holes in the ice. Use an auger with a diameter of less than 6 inches.


Wear sunscreen.


Cover your face. Wear layers to block wind.


Remain alert. Are you getting too cold? Wiggle fingers and toes. Tell someone that you are getting cold.

Getting lost

Know your area. Carry a phone, compass, map or a GPS unit.

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