This post contains affiliate links.
There is nothing worse than hauling your gear hundreds of yards or further from shore first thing in the morning, out onto the ice, and suddenly experiencing the need to poop!
Ice fishing on huge lakes such as Lake Winnipeg, you can find yourself over a mile or more from shore and your vehicle! And even at your local fishing spot, a hundred yards can be too far on some days!
Whenever someone wants to go ice fishing for the first time, one of the questions I’m often asked is, “Where do you go to the bathroom when you’re ice fishing?”
It’s a great question, and here’s how I and others have managed nature’s call while on the ice!
Always Plan Ahead
I’ll often hike a mile or more into the wilderness areas to fish on secluded lakes by myself. Other times I fish on pretty crowded lakes too.
The best advice I can give is to plan ahead. Be mindful of what you eat the afternoon or evening before a long day on the ice.
Coffee is a popular drink to get going in the early morning, but coffee will also “get you going,” if you know what I mean! An article in Men’s Health magazine reports coffee will hit its peak concentration after forty-five minutes.
So, if you haven’t done your morning constitution before leaving for the lake, plan on the urge “hitting” you in about an or so!
According to Healthline and their American Gut Check:
- 61.3% of people poop in the morning
- 22% in the afternoon
- 14% in the evening
Therefore, 1 in 5 people will be looking for a place to go right in the middle of their day!
Stop and Use a Bathroom Along the Way
When traveling to your fishing spots, most of us will stop at a convenience store for gas and pick up a breakfast burrito or sandwich and more coffee along the way.
Use these quick stops to “take care of business” that you didn’t take care of earlier! Even if you don’t “have the urge,” it’s wise to go give it a try!
Believe me. I’ve passed on these opportunities thinking I was good only to get to the lake and have it hit me then!
Use Public Restrooms at the Lake
If you’re lucky, the lakes you fish in are close enough to larger metropolitan areas they keep the public restrooms open at the lake.
In my neck of the woods, most of the lakes in Wyoming are seasonal, with heavy tourism during the summer. And the lakeside camping facilities and restrooms are locked, winterized, and closed during ice fishing season.
One thing to keep in mind when using public facilities during the winter, they may not be cleaned and stocked on a regular schedule like during the summer!
This brings us to the next bit of advice!
Bring Along Essential Toiletries
I’m not going to lie. Over the years, I have used socks and torn up a few t-shirts when caught with my pants down!
Enough cannot be said for having a half or quarter roll of toilet paper with you or in your vehicle when traveling on a fishing trip!
A one-gallon ziplock baggie is handy to store the following basic items, and it takes up very little room.
- Partial roll of toilet paper
- A small bottle of hand sanitizer
- A couple of smaller ziplock baggies
An option I’ll be adding to my toiletry kit will be individually wrapped Dude Wipes found on Amazon or in your local stores. They are 25% larger than other flushable wipes on the market, and I’d think do a better job than dry TP in the winter!
The best way to get a small roll of toilet paper for traveling is to take the roll from home once it gets down to the size you prefer.
Coffee filters make terrific use as TP. They are cheap, easy to pack, and come in packages of over 100! So folding up a half dozen or so won’t take hardly any space either!
Don’t Stray Far From Shore
Obviously, the best place to be when the urge arises is close to shore and a public restroom. Don’t stray too far from shore!
Even if there aren’t public use facilities, you can find a tree, shrubs, or brush on the shore to do your thing and be out of sight from others at the same time.
Another plus of walking to shore, if you don’t have a toiletry kit, is you can use nature’s TP – leaves or moss to wipe yourself with.
Use an Ice Shelter
If you are fishing in an ice shelter, you can certainly use it as a private bathroom shelter! Most of my fishing buddies and I have done it!
One of my friends carries a large aluminum scoop shovel on his side-by-side to clear snow from where they’re fishing or dig themselves out if they become stuck.
Throwing a layer of snow onto the shovel, they’ll do their duty inside the shelter on the shovel and carry it away.
On many lakes, you’ll also find “Permies” or permanent wood/metal fish houses. Only in an emergency would I ever recommend you enter someone else’s shack!
Generally, when someone has a permie, there is normally a five-gallon bucket inside for this very thing. Just make sure you clean up after yourself and leave everything the way you found it!
Keep Your Privates Private
No one is fooling anybody by walking away ten or fifteen yards from your shack or fishing hole and making it like you’re checking your watch or adjusting your coat! (We’ve all done it!)
Be discrete when you are relieving yourself anywhere on the ice or shore.
This is considered indecent public exposure in some states and areas, and you can be fined or arrested. I’ve never seen it happen, but I have read on forums where Game Wardens have ticketed people for it.
Most men won’t care, but quite a few ice fishermen carry binoculars to check what baits and lures others are using and catching fish with.
If you’re a woman or a guy fishing with a woman, take precautions and consider your privacy.
Pack Out What You Brought In
The same people who won’t pack out their trash when enjoying the outdoors certainly won’t pack out or clean up after they poop or pee on the ice! Walking up and seeing that scene is disgusting.
If you hike or camp in the mountains and wilderness, you know what I mean. Walking to shore and seeing someone else’s “pile” and used toilet paper isn’t what you want to see when enjoying the day.
Pack out what you did! This is why you carry a few extra sealable plastic baggies with you in your toiletry kit!
By turning the baggie inside out over your hand, you can pick up what you did without touching it and pull the baggie back over it. Seal the baggie and carry it back to a place you can properly dispose of it.
How Do You Poop or Pee When Ice Fishing
Like anything else, you should be prepared and have everything needed to take care of business.
I use the same method while ice fishing that I do when I’m in the mountains hiking and fishing streamside.
Find a Place and Choose Your Spot
Always try to stay at least 200′ from any water source, campsites, trails, or other areas where the public may venture. (If you have to poop on the ice, be prepared to please pack it out.)
If the ground isn’t too frozen, try to dig a “cat hole” approximately 4″ deep and 6″ wide with a stick, rock, or possibly your boot heel to poop in.
If you’re peeing, you’ll want to stay 200′ away like above, but you can urinate on a rock. Once the urine dries, small critters smell the salts in your urine and will use it to replenish sodium in their bodies!
Use Just Enough Toilet Paper
Never leave your toilet paper behind or place it into the hole you dug.
You can use a lesser amount of toilet paper by first wiping with leaves or even a snowball if you’re adventurous!
Place the TP into a plastic bag to be carried out. Carry out any handi-wipes or moist towelettes if you’re using those as well.
Cover it Up or Pack it Out
If you chose to poop in a cat hole you dug, cover it up with the same dirt you excavated. Tamp it down firmly with your foot.
Place a rock or something over the hole to keep animals from digging it up. As a courtesy, you can also place a stick upright in the hole to keep another person from choosing the same spot you did!
Sanitize Your Hands
Finally, use hand sanitizer to clean your hands thoroughly.
Use an adequate amount and vigorously rub your hands together to sanitize them completely.
If you’re handling food and cooking breakfast or lunch on the ice, or passing out jerky sticks, sanitize those hands once again!
How Do Women Go to the Bathroom When Ice Fishing
Women have the same need to go to the bathroom as men do. And by nature, women are generally more concerned about privacy than men are.
So here is what to do whether a group of women are fishing together, or you’re a guy taking your girlfriend or wife ice fishing.
- Bring along a 5-gallon bucket with a lid
- Place a trash bag (they come scented now!) into the bucket
- Pull the trash bag over the top and down the side of the bucket
- Secure the trash bag with a bungee cord
- Place an inch or two of kitty litter (or oil dry) into the bottom
Now you have a makeshift toilet. Once used, shake the kitty litter around to absorb and cover any “deposits”!
The Best Ice Fishing Bathroom Options to Bring
It doesn’t matter if you’re fishing in a portable flip-over shelter, hub-style popup, hunting blind or permanent shanty. These options below are great to take anywhere you plan on being for a whole day or longer.
- Sunany Female Urination Device – A silicone funnel designed for women to urinate while standing up. Easy to clean, soft, lightweight, and foldable. No more need for women to squat behind a vehicle or use a dirty public toilet!
- Luggable Loo Portable 5-Gallon Toilet – Bucket-style portable toilet with seat lid. You’ll want to place a trash bag inside of it before using. Once used, you can remove and tie the bag closed to dispose of properly later.
- Portable Toilet Bucket Seat Set – Durable and most of all comfortable seat for a 5-gallon bucket! The set also comes with 45 disposable bags.
- Dude Wipes – An alternative to dry on-ply toilet tissue you find in public restrooms. Small and individually packed so they are easy to toss into your toiletry kit or coat pocket before heading out onto the ice. 25% larger than other flushable wipes too.
Have fun and stay safe out there!