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Take A Kid Ice Fishing set for this weekend

Take A Kid Ice Fishing Weekend will be held Saturday, Jan. 15, through Monday, Jan. 17.

Take A Kid Ice Fishing weekend will be held Saturday, Jan. 15, through Monday, Jan. 17, offering Minnesota residents the chance to fish or spearfish for free when accompanied by a child age 15 or younger.
(Courtesy / Pixabay)

Take A Kid Ice Fishing Weekend will be held Saturday, Jan. 15, through Monday, Jan. 17.

During the weekend, Minnesota residents can go ice fishing for free if they are fishing with a child 15 years old or younger. Minnesotans 15 years old or younger don’t need fishing licenses any time of the year, according to a release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Ice fishing is lots of fun for kids and adults alike. There’s nothing quite like making your way onto a frozen lake, drilling a hole through the ice and catching fish,” Benji Kohn, volunteer mentor program coordinator with the Minnesota DNR, said in a release. “If you’re interested in giving ice fishing a try, learning the basics is really doable. We have helpful information on our website to get you started.”

New to ice fishing? The Minnesota DNR has put together a list of tips and tricks to fish safe and sound this weekend.

Helpful links and fun stuff for kids

  • There is no such thing as safe ice. Find out why you can never be too careful at the MNDNR Ice Safety Webpage.
  • You've never been ice fishing? Don't fret. Sit down with your young anglers and learn together with the Let’s Go Ice Fishing guide available on the Minnesota DNR website.
  • Watch a helpful video by the MNDNR called “Danger, Thin Ice!” on how to do an ice self-rescue and how to rescue someone who has fallen through the ice.
  • Want a guide to take with you this winter expedition? Print out MinnAqua's Ice Fishing and Winter Safety from the DNR website.

Keep warm and dry

  • Stocking cap: Maybe the most important piece of winter clothing. Wear a knitted or fleece hat or cap that covers ears. In addition, a hood helps block the wind.
  • Scarf or neck gaiter: A scarf, muffler, or neck gaiter can be pulled over the face if it gets windy.
  • Mittens: Mittens trap more heat than gloves. Mittens should be thick and warm. Thin gloves worn under mittens are good when mittens need to be taken off for tying knots or taking fish off of hooks. Connecting mittens to jacket cuffs may be a good idea for some.
  • Warming layers: Layers of clothing trap body heat between them. Most long underwear (layer next to the skin) made of polypropylene (or silk) wicks moisture away from the skin. The next layers are for insulation. Ideal insulation layer materials retain some insulating qualities, even when wet (such as a wool sweater or fleece jacket). If it's really cold, wear more than one insulating layer. The top layer blocks the wind and may also be waterproof.
  • Socks: Wear thick wool socks. Some people like to wear two pairs of socks. Be sure to avoid cotton socks.
  • Boots: Boots should be insulated and rubber-soled. Make sure boots aren't too tight -- toes should have room to wiggle.

Basic safety gear

  • Hot chocolate and 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. 
  • Sunscreen & Sunglasses: Sunburn is caused from sunlight not heat, glare from the ice and snow intensifies the sunlight and the potential for sunburn.

Fishing equipment

  • 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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