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Swill

At what age is a toddler ready to go icefishing? PLEASE HELP

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Ok gang I need help. I love icefishing. But my wife thinks I am nuts for wanting to take my son (who is 18 months) out icefishing for a little bit. Now I fish in an otter...I have a propane heater, and I have some common sense.

So my question is at what age can a guy take his son or daughter icefishing? I think my wife is worried he will fall through the ice in one of those 10" auger holes!

PS I was think if she came too then there would be the two of us to watch him..

Any opinions would be great. Our decision is going to be made after checking out any replies....

Thanks Swill

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I think get them started early as long as you are in a heated enclosure and are careful. You do have to be prepared to leave rather quickly as kids get bored. Bring toys, or stuff to keep him having fun if he gets bored. And dont go for eyes or something hard to catch the first time, get them started with perch and panfish. Fun, fast action with fish small enough they won't scare the kid!

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He's EIGHTEEN MONTHS for crying out loud. Aren't they still in a car seat?
There is no way I would have a child that age out on the ice. Won't even know what is going on!?!?!?!

But, what the heck it's your kid.

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Do watch out for little people around the holes! The first time I took my son out was age 3.5. I had left my auger at home and my brother had an emergency, leaving the parking lot when I arrived. He pointed out that he had holes open nearby. I found that he had kicked ice in them but began removing it with my boot from the first hole. I told my son to stay away as I turned to clear another about 6 feet away. Immediately I heard a noise, and yep, he was in to his hip in a 6" hole. I pulled his leg out so quickly that he had only a small spot of moisture on his sock. I now use a larger auger except when he and his twin sister are along. Keep peace in your family by telling Mom that she's right, drill as small a hole as you can, limit your son's time on the ice to when he's up to it, watch him carefully and sooner than you now realize he'll be drilling the holes and buying the beer. Enjoy the little bugger!

Kevin

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I have a 9 month and 2 years and 9 months. I would not take them yet. I am looking at 3 at the earliest. If you have a nice house with a TV maybe at 2. You will have a lot of years to introduce them to this great sport. Go to the zoo and enjoy, when you can, the time fishing by yourself. In a few years you won't have it as much. wink.gif


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Hi Swill, Good question, I took my son out when he was 12 months old. A buddy called me when he was on fish so I knew fish would be caught. I drove to the spot we fished in 2 holes, 8 inchers. We fished for an hour and we caught some crappies. I thought it was cool and my son still has the photo with his first fish. Have low expectations. get on fish, keep it to an hour or two and be careful. I had my boy sitting on a blanket between my legs he was holding the rod and I worked the reel. I hope this helps. Pick a warm day I wouldn't use the heater, it's one more thing to worry about.

[This message has been edited by wgmsa (edited 12-18-2003).]

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If you were in a bigger heated house I think it would be ok but in a small portable there are too many things that could go wrong.I started taking my son out when he was about 3 panfishing and when I got a bite I would have him grab the line and run and the fish would come flying out of the hole.Wish I had a vidio cam back then.

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I took my 16 month old son out on Lake of the Woods for a couple hours (granted 1 hour was spent sleeping in the Blazer) Anyways, when he came to, I had him out on a day where it was 35 degrees, sunny and no wind. A perfect day for fishing. We had 4 adults out there, and a 3 year old and my 16 month old son. Two adults fishing, two adults watching/playing. We had a great time catching perch. Kept a very close eye on him and fished outside for that hour. We all knew where the 10" holes were and like I said, intensely supervised them. Both the 3 year old and my young son loved looking at the iced perch and even holding the rod for a catch or two. Under the right (perfect) circumstances, never too young.

------------------
Hemlock
"Throw'm back"

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Hey All, great question and excellent feedback. I was kickin' around the idea of taking my son who will be two today this year for an hour or two. It's a tag team event to say the least.

From past experienve with a good friend and his two year old, we set up a 6x8 on a really nice day, got the holes all drilled, had the grill going and Mom met us at the landing once we were all set. Then a quick ride out to the shack in the ATV and he played with the minnows and the occasional perch that bit during the day. Shot some good video and now he's ready to go again this season.

One trick I heard was using oven grates over larger holes...you can still watch a bobber and work a fish and just slide it over to the side when bringing them up.

MTCs

--Prudence

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We.need.to.keep.in.mind.ice-fishing..or.any.fishing.is.inherently.dangerous.

In.fact.it.is.high.on.the.list.of.more.dangerous.sports.with.relation.to.%.of.misshaps.and/or.death.

18.months.is.a.bit.early.in.my.view.for.the.main.reason.that.IF.an.misshap.were.to.happen.to.you..
the.infant.would.need.fend.for.itself...difficult.if.not.impossible.to.do?

A.short.visit.to.the.ice.is.ok..then.the.infant.should.be.taken.elsewhere.

Extended.periods.may.offer.more.risk.and.hassle.then.you.may.wish.to.experience?

In.a.permanent.shack..well.heated..and.with.your.full.attention..it.may.be.OK..
Yet.a.second.responsible.adult.there.also...would.be.even.better.in.my.view.


------------------
Ed "Backwater Eddy" Carlson

Backwater Guiding
"ED on the RED"
[email protected]
><,sUMo,>

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I aplaude your concern and am glad to see you are looking for opinions. The only true judge is yourself. However, I took my son @ 18 months, either in a backpack or had him teathered to me at all times. I was sure to point out the holes and always be vigilant of his actions. I made sure I was out there when ice conditions were as safe as could be (Greater than 8 inches). My wife is also paranoid about ice thickness and safety. I always brought a favorite healthy snack, and made sure we were on fish to catch. You have to go with the mind set of fishing for them not necessarily you.
I think it worked, he is now six, and loves to go with me all of the time. But I still try to get on action and keep it fun. I rarely go for more than three or four hours. Hope this helps. Good luck with what ever you decide.

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Any concern is a valid concern. I think the teather is a great idea. I believe you have to be lucky just to have the conditions to get real young ones out there. Conditions that I believe are essential:

-1', if not 3' of good ice
-Intense supervision (like daddy not fishing)
-Safety and regard for old/active holes
-Close to warmth/snacks/etc.
-Good clothing for junior, and a spare set.
-Good weather
-Timeframe that allows for his/her schedule


Eddy, I commend your concerns, believe me, if I didn't have them, I would be a bad parent. It's a touchy subject, but I had as much confidence as anything while on the ice that day with jr.

------------------
Hemlock
"Throw'm back"

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I think that you wouldn't want to take him out in anything other than a big house. An otter is just to small to be in. Plus your holes are right in front of you on the ice so if the little tike is wanting to walk around the holes are in the way. Not a smart idea in my book I know that you would want anything to happen to him. At 18 months I think it is better to leave him home and take him out when he is older. Even at 3-4 years old there will be many years for you to fish together and enjoy each others company. But even then I wouldn't put them in a portable house. I think you might want to listen to your wife on this one.

------------------
Grip it and Rip it

IFFWalleyes
I Fish For Walleyes
[email protected]

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My suggestion would be to take him, but keep him there only as long as he wants to stay. Watch him like a hawk, but you are already doing that no matter where he is.

Anytime we can get our kids outdoors is a plus. My kids traveled all over the outdoors with me from the time they could walk. Today one is guiding backcounty high altitude snowbording trips in Tahoe and the other one was always fishing, hiking, camping. That is until the twins arrived last June.

Go for it.

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My suggestion would be to take him, but keep him there only as long as he wants to stay. Watch him like a hawk, but you are already doing that no matter where he is.

Anytime we can get our kids outdoors is a plus. My kids traveled all over the outdoors with me from the time they could walk. Today one is guiding backcounty high altitude snowbording trips in Tahoe and the other one was always fishing, hiking, camping. That is until the twins arrived last June.

Go for it.

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The first time I took my son out he was about 3. We were driving across the ice in my pickup. I looked over at him sound asleep in his car seat. A feeling of terror came over me. If the truck went through the ice, he wouldn't have a chance. After that we always rode out of the car seat with the windows down.

We got out to the spot, I set up my home-made portable, drilled some holes, got the heater started, started to drop a line and he stepped into a hole. He was wet to the hip on one leg. Back into the still warm truck, pack everything up and head for home.
After that, I always brought a change of clothes.

He's 21 now and loves to Ice Fish. We are hoping to get out over Christmas break.

So, bring extra clothes, watch him around the heater and be prepared to leave early.

Have fun with him. They grow way too fast!

Boyz in the Woods (nothing better)

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I have an 18 month old little guy as well.
He may go out this year for a very short time.

I will go out to the lake first, get the house set up and warm, holes drilled, lines ready to go then my wife will bring him out and we will both watch him and hopefully Dad can get him a fish or two while he is out there. I can see them staying for 1/2 or 45 minutes and then heading back out.

This will be later in the year when there is 14 to 18 inches of good ice and will be in an area that I know very well.

If you have a sled type house, I might wait a year to bring them out. A suitcase style or a perm. house would be better, IMO.

I think you want his / her first time out to be a good one for BOTH of you. You dont want them to think ice fishing sucks and you dont want to start thinking taking them is a pain in the butt--- I am bored, I am hungry, potty, where are the fishies, etc., so waiting might be the better option.

One last thing, I am going to borrow an underwater cam when I do take Nick out and let him try to find fish on that and see the bait and stuff. Just little things to keep it interesting for him.

Good luck which ever way that you go.

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On this topic, I think it depends on the kid. My three year old daughter can sit for a long time if you just let her mouth run. If I tell her to be quiet please, she can't sit still. I set up my permanent specifically for her and her 3 year old cousin, TV/VCR for kids movies, big heater, chalkboard games folding table etc. Hopefully enough distractions so that if the fish aren't biting we've got something to do. I plan to set it up close enough to shore so that I can pull her and the gear out in a sled and can take the expensive stuff home with us.

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Depends on the child and the environment.

My kids both started fishing prior to age 2.

Think of it as an outing with the child, during which you might happen to fish.

Rob

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18 months is pretty young. I take my four year and my six year as much as I can. My little girl, who is four, loves going out. She is the one that asks if we can go. 18 months would be a lot of work for you.

Last night I took my son, who is six, and he got a little concerned when it got dark. He asked me if I knew the way home. Something I did not think about. I don't think he had made the connection that we would be out on the ice after dark.

One thing I found is bring lots of eats. We like to make ham and cheese sandwiches, put them in tinfoil and lay them on top of the fireplace. This way the cheese melts and we enjoy hot ham and cheese sandwiches. Peanuts in the shell keep kids really busy and they enjoy throwing them into the fire. I'm waiting for the next BIG snowstorm so we get a huge drift behind the ice house. This keeps kids busy for hours building a nice fort.

Expose them early and you will have a partner for life!

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10" ice hole?
C'mon man just think of the danger you are putting that child into!
Freezing temps, heater that can burn skin, ice hole that a child could fall through, hooks, auger blades, etc.!!
Get a sitter for now and wait one year until you can get your child even slightly curious about fishing, and fish in a permanent house that would be more safe and comfortable.
The worst thing you can do to a child is to give your child a bad experience fishing.
They might not want to ever go again.
Be smart and be careful!

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I think its great to get kids involved in fishing or other outdoors activies. But as mentioned they can be dangerous, when I was growing up, we did not have augers and used chinsels to chop holes. My smaller sister fell into one of these and if she did not have her arms out, she probably would have gone under. a small child moves quick and could go down a 10" holes easy. not too mention heater that burn at a few thousand degrees. Its easy to get distracted while playing a fish or bringing one in, accidents happen in the blink of an eye. We can not undo what happens, and is the regert worth it?

on a different note: I believe this is my 100 post. now times flies when having fun.

O

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Great idea to take the kids ice fishing. Like most have said, just keep it at their pace and fun for them. You may have to shorten a few trips, but it'll pay off later. It worked for me. My daughters are begging me to go this year as they had fun last year. Mine were a bit older when they started, but it's never too late. Wait til you see the look on their face when you drill a hole, they see the water come, and then realize they are standing on/in the middle of the lake! My oldest was so funny! Good luck.

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My son caught his first fish at 2 1/2 and went ice fishing that winter before age 3.

What I did;
Drilled one hole (10")
Brought the Aqua Vue so he could watch those that didn't bite.
Let him reel in fish after I set the hook.
Let him set on a couple.
Picked a warm and windless day.
Stayed close to home and kept it short.

I think it's good to introduce them at a young age, and make it fun, bring toys and snacks so they are happy. Then call it a day, before they get bored, you don't want to have it end with them not having fun.

My son LOVES to go fishing and just play "fishing" at home. We look at tackle and "play" in the boat. Any fun time centered around fishing, on or off the water is good for the future.

18 months might be too young, but it's your choice. Just make it HIS DAY and keep it simple.

Good Luck!
Steve

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Sounds like a great trip and a really fun experience, congratulations! Thanks for all the pictures and sharing your story. I know that's a lot of work and it is much appreciated.
    • At this point we had one full day and one morning left to hunt.  No more elk moved into the drainage behind camp.  By some miracle a cow and spike did come back to the hillside we had elk on that first evening, but neither Dad or I could get in position quick enough before they went back over the fence.     All added up we had 2 very good opportunities, and one decent, which by our standards and past experience in general OTC type units was a pretty decent week of elk hunting even though no elk were killed.  We learned a lot about the unit and a potential better way to access the landlocked area behind us via a possible easement logging road, but we have to confirm that with the forest service at a later date.       You might be wondering what happened with our whitetail tags.   We had numerous run-ins with deer on an almost daily basis.  There were at least three occasions where does would feed right into camp, and it got to a point I kept my bow in the cook shack to try to shoot out of it as a blind.  They never stuck around long enough though to actually get a shot off.      Dad sat his tree stand a number of times above camp as he came down at sunset with enough time to sit in a tree for a half hour or so, but the deer always seemed to pass through the spots he could not shoot or see.  One time he climbed down to two deer staring at him from within range, he just did not see them coming...   Almost every evening we walked down the road behind camp we would kick up a deer or two bedding in the quakeys, but as the week progressed they clearly became more skittish of us.  I also tried hunting back down the gravel road and found some good spots where they crossed the road and creek, which if I actually focused on sitting over with a treestand I feel I could have shot a deer, but I wanted an elk more...        Our Elk B tags are good through rifle season, as are the deer tags.  If the stars align and my wife allows I might make a run back out.  I have an acquaintance in the area that I am checking with to see if he might be interested.       I hope Scoot and ArcherySniper come back to report better luck on their hunts.  
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    • I told my dad that he should not follow me up that hill, it might kill him.  He did not take me seriously...  He followed anyway.  We left camp very early as it was a long walk up the drainage, and I wanted to be on top before the elk, but I still needed daylight to get up the dangerous last 700ft.     Sunrise behind me on the way up:   I made it to the top and set up in the rock outcropping.  Time passed, Dad was nowhere to be seen behind me.  I saw a group of elk below me in the next drainage, a nice bull and what might have been the cows/calves I was seeing on the spine the previous days...     I waited, and waited, and saw lots of fresh tracks in the dirt.  Dad showed up, still no elk up high...  We waited until about 10am, long past when they had passed through the other times.  The elk below us bedded and a satellite bull moved in on them.  Another bull was bugling to the one below us, and we heard one lone bugle to the right.   We had no intention of going down to try to shoot one, because if we did it would be a nightmare for us to get the meat out again.        We gave up and picked our way back down the chute and all the way to camp.  After doing this walk two days in a row my feet hurt like hell and I was beat.  I would not be able to do it again a third day in a row.     
    • I think it was the third morning when I walked back up the big drainage behind camp to get a good look on the ground for elk sign.  On the way I saw more elk way up on the spine of the drainage.  Lots more elk sign in the back cuts.  It was clear this area held a lot of elk during the summer, but they got busted out by hunters during the early part of the season.    I decided I was going to get a closer look at the potential trail to the top of the drainage spine.  I am a rock climber, so heights don't bother me so much.  I was more concerned about footing and if my dad could get up there, and if I did shoot one how would I get it down...   The top of the spine where I was targeting was 1600ft above camp, the last chute is about 700ft alone and very steep.   I slowly picked my way up the chute, sweating profusely in the sun, but was rewarded at the top.    The view back to camp:   The view down the back side, one square mile of almost entirely private landlocked national forest.       The elk highway along the spine that I was seeing elk use, and was covered in fresh tracks.       The elk trail at the top funnel together at a rock outcropping that I knew I had to use as a blind. If I shot an elk up here it would have to be at the very top, because hauling meat down the hill behind me was bad enough, but I did not want to have to haul any up the hill either as it was just as steep on the other side!   I made plans to come back early the next morning and kill an elk at this spot.   That evening I sat on the other hill we had been hunting more consistently, and watched the herd of elk taunting us from a far off ridge.  Here is one of the small satellite bulls.    
    • Dad had seen a black bear below him that first morning, and when I walked down the next day with him I was able to snap some photos in the early light with my bigger camera.  They are grainy, but it looked like a nice bear to me.  We did not have a tag.     Herd of elk way out on private range land:   Interesting spider:
    • Unfortunately this is where the trip gets boring.   That herd we accidentally set up on the very first evening moved across the fence and taunted us from the other side all week.  We knew it was a good spot, but wind directions did not cooperate, and no more elk would cross the fence there no matter how much we wanted them to or how good the sign was on that hillside.    The second morning I went higher above to glass back up the main drainage.  Far up on the rim of the drianage I saw a few elk walk across the spine.  I knew from the map there was one chute that could access the national forest behind us, and as far as I knew there were no other ways back up there.  I added some waypoints to onx.   As I worked around the hill glassing, I eventually walked into a spike bull bedded.  Unfortunately he was alone, and some cattle fed into him and bumped him out.  He then saw/smelled me and busted out never to be seen again.     The drainage behind camp:   Elk on the high rim of the drainage:   Looking down to camp where the whitetail deer live:   Spike bull elk at 90yd. 
    • As luck, or bad luck, would have it the first evening was one of our luckiest.  We hiked up the main logging road that took us to the front of the drainage overlooking some prime grazing areas.  We hiked back to where we hit a private ranch fence that had timber on the other side, hoping elk would come out to feed and we could observe.   We no sooner arrived at our observation point and a raghorn bull across the valley saw us coming and blew out ahead of us...      We found a place to sit by a grove of shorter quaking aspens (I think).  We waited and waited, and I scouted behind the grove and came back to let my dad know there was a lot of elk sign on the hillside above us...     As sunset rolled around we heard something behind us, Dad though it was birds.  There were birds in the aspens, but this was much louder.   I figured there were elk coming right to us, so we knocked arrows and waited.  Fortunately they wind was right, and now thermals kicked in to further assist.    Sure enough elk had moved right into us.  If we were facing uphill instead of out across the valley we would have had easy shots.  Unfortunately the elk sensed something was wrong, so we each snuck around opposite sides of the grove.  I went high side, and saw an elk 40yd in front of me, but I thought I saw antlers so did not move further for a shot.  I waited.  Dad had gone low, not as quietly, and the elk were moving off now.  I saw a huge herd bull crest the hill above, and a cow and calf stood in front of me at 80yd.   I drew on them, but did not shoot.         After the frustration wore off, we headed back to camp.  We crossed the last cattle gate above camp just before dark, and I looked up to see two whitetail does standing there staring at us.  I couldn't believe it...  I quickly confirmed they were whitetail, and we both ranged them for 35yd.  I drew to shoot, settled in for the shot, and watched as my arrow sailed right over the does back...  I couldn't believe it.  I made sure I was using the right pins, and even doing a test shot the next day showed the bow was shooting accurately...   Throughout the week we learned the whitetail deer were consistently feeding and bedding right around our camp.  Dad set a tree stand not more than 100yd above camp.      
    • This year I got the bright idea of buying some leftover Elk B tags in a unit in SW Montana that we had never been to before. Originally my dad and I were planning on going back out to Idaho where we hunted two years ago now that we had some experience there.   MT Elk B tags are less than half the cost of an any elk tag in Idaho, and 1/3 the cost of a MT general elk tag.  In addition we could buy up two two Whitetail B tags each for a reasonable fee, and it looked like there were plenty in the unit to go around.  It did not take much convincing for my dad.    Some quick research on the internet showed this unit had a good amount of accessible national forest ground, plus state and Block Management areas.  Access was a little limited to a handful of major trailheads and short road sections, but I felt there were enough options to give it a go.  Another plus was that the elevation in this area had camp at 6000ft and most of our hunting no higher than 7500ft.  This was important because Dad turned 69 during the trip and I wanted to make sure he wouldn't have a heart attack in the middle of the hunt.  I also subscribed to the OnXMaps service and put the app with my account on both of our phones so we could share waypoints, and waypoints I saved ahead of time from home could be visible on the phone app.  
      The drive across MN/ND/MT was uneventful, except that because we had so much extra junk in the truck that the seats could not lean back properly to allow for decent sleep at 2am...  I forget where we had breakfast, maybe it was Billings.  Dad likes to eat at local cafes whenever possible, and he found one attached to a cattle auction facility.   We were the only non-ranchers in attendance.  The food was very good, and provided leftovers for a second meal.     We arrived in our unit in one piece, and my first choice area turned out to not have anyone camped at the trailhead!   So we set up shop and made camp.  As per the usual with my dad, he packed everything plus the kitchen sink, in double...  I lean more towards the minimalist side, and have learned that any food I pack likely will not be eaten as he prefers full cooked meals instead of whatever I can muster up on my whisperlite.  Our truck camp is usually pretty comfortable.   I'm sure you will all recognize the Eskimo pop-up ice shack.  These work great as cook shacks on hunting trips!  Dad has one of the tall models you can stand in, with quilted sides.  Even without the tarp on top it will keep out quite a bit of rain, and the propane cook stove heats it well in the morning/evening.  During the day the open windows and doors provide great ventilation to relax in the shade, while the Cabelas Alaskan tent was roasting hot inside.      Turns out there are a decent number of cattle in this drainage with us.  We were constantly dodging cow pies and herding them off the trails ahead of us.        
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