Well folks it's mid-winter. Most lakes and rivers I've fished have a good amount of snow on them, but recently I was on a lake that had merely a dusting of the white stuff. It was as slippery as Teflon. It's been my practice to always carry boot cleats and this trip was another scenario where they enhanced my day on the ice.
It's my experience that cleats are a piece of gear that get overlooked by many anglers. This is a big mistake. They're necessities in my book.
|Cleats are a must-have for solid footing on ice.|
I remember walking back off the Bay of Quinte years ago during a mild spell. At dawn there was a few inches of snow on the ice and traction wasn't an issue, but by dusk it had either been blown off or had melted. The surface resembled a flooded hockey rink. It was breezy, too. My buddies and I had our cleats on and pulled our portable shacks back to our vehicles with relative ease. Other anglers without cleats weren't so fortunate. The ice was so treacherous that several folks struggled to put one foot in front of the other. I saw several slip and fall, including one header that made me wince.
Let's consider some other facts. We drill holes with razor sharp augers and power models pack a ton of torque. Sure footing is critical for safe drilling and cleats will give you more grip than bare boots alone.
Running to tip-ups or crouching to help a friend land a fish are two other instances where a sure foothold is essential. Consider how much walking goes into a day on the ice, and you'll easily think of several more examples where cleats are critical.
Another misconception I've seen anglers make is that any pair of cleats will do the job. This is far from the case. As with most pieces of gear, you get what you pay for. If you're a regular ice angler you owe it to yourself to invest in high-end cleats. You don't need to buy a pair qualified to climb Mount Everest, but they should be durable and provide good coverage of the sole, not just the front of the foot.
Walk a mile in a quality pair of ice cleats in slick conditions and you'll never second guess the purchase. As my dad says, "Never skimp on anything that goes between you and the ground." This includes beds, chairs, footwear and cleats I suppose — so get some boot cleats and get a grip out on the ice.