Ice Fishing

Tested Clever Ways How to fish on the Frozen Arctic




Imagine a scenario where you are stranded in the middle of an ice shelf….. You are faced with how to fish on the frozen water and get access to the most accessible source of food available. Don’t ask me how you got there. Perhaps your plane was forced to make an emergency landing. Whatever the reason, the fact is you are there! Remember, the worse thing you can do is to panic….Keep in mind one thought and only one thought.

“That you will survive”

Just stay calm, assess your situation, (don’t forget to breath deeply) and you will recall the Basic needs you need to have to stay alive. Besides requiring shelter for protection and fire to keep you warm, you are going to be working very hard to acquire these things – shelter and fire, you will use a lot of energy which you will have to replenish from the digestion of food. Finding drinking water shouldn’t be a problem as icebergs are basically freshwater and so is snow. Salt-water will only freeze if the temperatures gets to about -21 degrees C (-5.8F).

On frozen Arctic seas fish are likely to be the most accessible source of food you can find. Even in summer it  is safer to fish through the ice than to fish the edge of a flow which may break up beneath you. The techniques involved are equally effective on any frozen lake or river where the ice is thick enough to bear your weight with ease  but not so solid that it cannot be broken through.

First you need to gain access to the water, which means smashing a hole in the ice. If you have an ice saw, use that to cut neat holes which will still leave you with firm edges. If you have to smash the ice there is a risk that it may fracture back into the area where you are standing. Approach the operation carefully, or you will fall into the freezing water and then struggle to get out, build a fire and spend a few hours standing around the fire to get yourself warm again.

Hook and Line

Bait the hook in the usual way (Remember that you have hooks and some line in your Survival kit in your pocket). If the line is carried back up against the underside of the ice you will need to weight it below the hook.

There is no point in trying out your angling skills at only one hole. It is far better to set up multiple angling points by making several holes in the ice. In order to cover them effectively, however, you will need an easy way of knowing when you have a bite.



Make a pennant from a piece of cloth, paper or card – preferably of a bright colour so that you will see it easily against the snow and ice and attach it to a light stick. Lash this firmly at right-angles to another stick which must extend beyond the maximum diameter of your hole by at least 30 percent.  Now attach the fishing line to the lower end of the flagpole and rest the flag on the side of the hole with the fishing line dangling into the water at its centre.





When a fish takes your bait the cross piece will be pulled over the hole and the flagpole jerked upright. Keep your eye on the markers so you can pull your catch up quickly. The wriggling fish is an easy meal for a passing seal or a larger fish.





Ice Netting

Although fish do not hibernate their metabolism slows down to cope with the lower winter temperatures and they consequently eat much less, making them less likely to take your bait. Netting, is always far more likely to be a certain way of producing results, and has a further edge on line fishing.

Net through the ice.

A net lowered from the edge of a floe would probably end up frozen to the floe and handling it would be a risky operation. Instead make several holes in the ice about 40cm (16in) wide and about twice that distance apart. Attach retaining loops to the top edge of your net at 80cm (32in) intervals, to match the holes and lower one end of the net into the hole at one end of your row.

With a hooked pole (which you can improvise) you now have to fish for the net and haul it through to the next hole where you secure the next retaining loop with another retaining stick – and so on until the whole net is suspended.

If the ice is thin enough, feed all the retaining loops into the hooked pole and lower the entire net through the first hole, anchoring the first loop with a retaining stick. Then, carefully holding the loops, reach the hooked pole through the next and slip the remaining loops onto it. Pull the net along and anchor the next retaining loop. Continue until the net is fully extended.

To check your net pull it up with the hooked pole. If you leave your net for too long, in polar regions, you may find that your catch has been for the benefit of a seal who has stolen most of it.


Preparing Fish

All freshwater fish are edible. Those under 5cm (2in) long need no preparation and can be eaten whole. Larger fish must be gutted. Catfish and eels are smooth-skinned but others may be descaled. Catfish have a cartilage skeleton. Most other fish have a mass of bones.


Bleeding: As soon as a fish is caught cut its throat and allow it to bleed and cut out the gills.

Gutting: Make an incision from the anal orifice to where the throat was cut. Remove all offal – you can use it for hook bait or in an eel bag. Keep the roe, which runs down the side of the fish. It is hard in females, soft in males and it is very nutritious. This preparation helps fish keep longer.

Scaling: Is not necessary and fish can be cooked with the scales on but if there is time scrape them off. Draw your knife from the tail to the head.

Skinning: Fish skin has good food value and should be left on and eaten unless food is plentiful. To skin eels and catfish pass a stake through the head of the fish and lodge it across upright and having cut the skin away just below it, draw it down towards the tail.