Winter can provide some excellent opportunities for fishing in north Idaho. I remember there was a man who walked into the old store of Black Sheep Sporting Goods. He boldly announced to the store owner, "I'm going ice fishin' and I need some gear." The response was, "Well first off, you better make sure you cut hole big enough to get your boat in!"
Ice fishing can be quite the undertaking if you are not prepared. First, clothing should be sufficient to the temperature. Insulated boots and coveralls are a necessity. Second, you need to ask yourself if you're going to use some sort of shelter. Today, there are many collapsible nylon shelters that offer a wind break while on the ice. Third, you will need a sturdy ice auger. An ax just isn't enough when you are attempting to chop a hole through 12-18 inches of ice. Plus, it can be dangerous due to the flying chips can potentially hit you in the eye. Fourth, is your fishing gear. Use a short fishing pole with a spinning reel. The weight of line should be in the 6-8 pound mono filament range. Lures can be a swedish pimple. Some use crappie jigs. Both are effective with maggots and small meal worms. Some fishermen recommend a kernel or two of white Shoepeg corn. Shoepeg corn is sweet and desirable to fish. Fifth, is heat. A can of Sterno while sitting on a plastic 5 gallon bucket is nice when temperatures are in the 20 degree range. Sixth, choose a sturdy sled to haul your gear onto the ice.
Make sure you read the state's fishing regulations. It can unsettling if you're fishing without a license or making the hole in the ice too big only to get a citation from a game warden. An over-sized hole in the ice can be dangerous. Safety is always something to be aware of. Check with your local newspaper and fishing stores as to ice thickness. As springtime nears and temperatures begin warm up there is always the risk of "rotten ice." A condition where the ice loses it's density and can be dangerous to the unwary person. I also recommend packing some 5/8th inch nylon rope to throw out to in case someone needs your help. Both Hayden and Fernan lakes offer some excellent opportunities to ice fish. Give it try!