How To Go To The Bathroom While Ice Fishing

If you are spending a day on the ice, eventually, you’ll need to answer nature’s call.  Going to the bathroom while ice fishing can be tricky business, especially for the ladies.  

Privacy may not be possible and layers of warm winter clothing make the task slow and uncomfortable.  Guys might have it a bit easier but there are still a few things to know about etiquette when going to the bathroom while ice fishing.

Having a plan for bathroom breaks and heading out with the proper toilet gear is essential for a fun day on the ice.  That’s why we decided to write this article.  No one likes to talk about it but we all need to go at some point.  Whether you are a man, woman or child, here are our best tips for going to the bathroom while ice fishing.

Know where the bathrooms are

Popular ice fishing destinations often have restrooms available around parking areas or parks.  If you can, stage your fishing spots to be within walking distance of a restroom.  This is particularly important when fishing in groups with women or kids.  

When in mixed company, not everyone is going to be comfortable without the modern convenience of a bathroom.  Whether it is a daughter fishing with her dad or a husband and wife, sometimes privacy is needed.  Make the extra effort to plan a fishing trip with everyone’s comfort in mind.

Use an ice shelter

It’s not uncommon to have crowds of people on a flat expanse of ice.  The only privacy you’ll get for a bathroom break is going to be in your ice shelter.  Be respectful of those around you and setup a urinal inside.  Something as simple as a 5 gallon bucket with a lid will work.

Fish close to shore

The next best thing for bathroom breaks is a shoreline with trees or brush to provided extra privacy.  You don’t always need to fish far from shore, so position yourself near a patch of trees.  As long as it is within a short walk, and reasonably secluded, everyone will be happy. 

Bring the essentials

At a bare minimum, you need to have some toilet paper on hand.  However, you can make the task easier and cleaner with a few additional supplies.  

Bring a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.  This is probably the easiest solution to all your bathroom woes while ice fishing. 

You can also get snap-on toilet seats that fit a 5 gallon bucket.  They work great and seal out the smell if you’re in the confines of a shelter.  

You should also bring a few toilet bags in the event that it’s more than just pee.  Don’t leave unpleasant things behind for others to find on the ice.  

Remember to bring along sanitary wipes or hand sanitizer.  

Do your business before you leave

For those with regular bathroom routines, doing your business before heading out on the ice is the ideal solution.  Not everyone is so fortunate but do your best to get it out of the way in the morning.   

Don’t pee in the water

Not only is it not good etiquette, it’s just plain gross.  Either pee in a container and dump it later on shore or go on the ice only if you can cover it with snow.  Peeing in the water in some places is a violation and no one likes the idea of pulling dinner up through urine-contaminated water.

Be discrete

It’s never fun to come across other people’s waste on the ice.  While you may be leaving, other anglers may want to fish in your vacated spot.  Be considerate and clean up after yourself.  

Bathroom tools for women

Men have it easy.  Just unzip and you’re ready to go.  Women, on the other hand, require a bit more effort to get the job done and nothing is more inconvenient than trying to remove all the winter layers while retaining some form of modesty.

Luckily, there are tools for women that make answering nature’s call a bit easier and less messy.  They are called Female Urinary Devices or FUDs.  The most popular and effective devices are the GoGirl, Freshette and Pibella (my favorite).  All are $10 to $25 and well worth the investment.  For ladies serious about ice fishing, it is a must have piece of gear on the ice.

Best toilet options for ice fishing

Depending on your comfort requirements, there are several good options for portable toilets that all work for ice fishing.  Some are best suited for ice houses while others are super portable for anglers on the go.  

  • Porta Potti by Thetford CorpFor the best control of smell and sanitation in a small ice shelter, the Porta Potti is the ultimate in cleanliness for its size.  It costs more than other options but for avid ice anglers, it is perfect.
  • Luggable Loo by Reliance Control CorpThe popularity of the toilet seat bucket speaks for itself.  It is inexpensive and ultra portable for all angling situations.  The seat is comfortable and paired with plastic waste bags, it’s the best all around bathroom solution.
  • Green Elephant Folding Commode:   Another simple bathroom solution for ice anglers.  It requires plastic waste bags but it is a handy and portable toilet.  Keep in mind that the bags must be tied up every time to avoid unpleasant odors.
  • Abco Tech Pop Up Privacy TentFor those who spend a lot of time on the ice, the Abco Tech Pop Up tent is a great option for providing privacy on the flat expanse of ice fishing lakes.  The light weight portable design makes it easy to tow out on a sled.  It sets up quickly so you only need to pull it out when needed for discrete use.

Other common questions

Is it illegal to pee on the ice

Some bodies of water are tightly regulated to prevent ecological damage from people and their waste.  Disposing your waste improperly could result in fines if you’re caught.   In general, it is also considered indecent exposure if you don’t take proper steps to keep your business private.  

Just use a bucket or go to shore and it won’t be a problem.  For the most part, you won’t be in trouble if you pee on the ice away from other anglers.  

Is peeing on the ice bad for the environment

Small lakes that garner a lot of fishing action in the winter can be negatively impacted by human waste.  Always attempt to use restroom facilities or go to shore for a bathroom break.  It may seem like an insignificant addition to the water but too much urine from large numbers of anglers can change the delicate balance of a small lake’s ecosystem.

Do ice shelters have bathrooms built in

Most popup ice shelter are well suited for a 5 gallon bucket but there are some mobile ice shanties and trailers designed for ice fishing that are outfitted with dedicated toilet areas.  

Ice Castle Fish Houses come with bathroom areas and a toilet seat.  You only need to provide the sanitation bucket.  Some models come standard with waste bucket cassettes that you dump in a toilet later.  You can also use plastic waste bags in a bucket.

Final thoughts

Ice fishing in the winter is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy.  Don’t let uncomfortable bathroom situations keep you from going.  There are plenty of ways to make answering the call of nature easier and with some advanced preparation, you too can master the skill.  

Want to get the most out of your ice fishing season? Check out our Washington State Ice Fishing Secrets book. Our book highlights the 10 best lakes for ice fishing in Washington State with actual coordinates to some of our most productive holes. Plus, we thoroughly cover everything from gear selection, tactics and travel planning. To top it off, you also get information on 41 other lakes with superb ice fishing! Check it out before ice fishing season passes you by!