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Hey guys. I'm looking into purchasing a used ATV that I would be using for ice fishing. I have never owned one before. I'm curious to know what I should be looking for in terms of requirements that an ATV must have to be able to perform well on the ice. Does it need to be a 4x4 or would 2 wheel drive work? What is the minimum CCs that I would need? What brands perform better in cold weather? Any advice would be much appreciated.  Thanks

 

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I got a 700 cc Suzuki King Quad and it hasn't let me down. Well not a 100% true; when it was -40c out, the little battery couldn't turn the engine over fast enough to start the engine. Had to build a small fire under the quad; to warm thing up before it would start. LOL Fixed that by putting a full sized (875CCA) car battery in the side compartment; now the starter spins the engine over like nobodies business.  Four wheel drive I think is a must. Chains on all 4 wheels and a winch; cause there's still a chance of getting stuck or getting yourself out of a partial break through. Drill a hole in the "safe" ice,  drop down whatever you can come up with as an anchor down the hole and pull yourself out. Been there done that; more times then I want to remember. LOL Not saying you need a 700cc but the more power the better. The big thing about ATVs is they cannot travel on ice that's a bit sketchy; where a snowmobile wouldn't have an issue.

Dan.

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Mostly what Dan said,  mines a 550 with no effort on the ice.  If you're getting chains, go for "2 link", they have better coverage.  A jump start battery kept warm in a blanket will give you a good boost if needed, don't forget a basic set of cables.  Now for the "opinion".  Polaris makes some good sleds but their ATV's are a bag of hammers.  From personal knowledge, when it gets cold, a lot don't want to start, never mind even turning over.  Some of the relays (starter for one)don't like cold and won't work.  Some guys have swapped out snowmobile relays which works for some.  Fuel injected models work fine, some of the older ones like Honda with a manual choke are good too.

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I like Yamahas but they are all pretty good now

 

i think 500 plus is better

4x4 is a must however I ride it 2 wheel drive as much as possible 

winch is needed 

chains are nice however I only put them on when I get stuck. I don’t like running with them, it’s a rougher ride , loud  ,the bike digs into the snow deeper so you have to push more snow  so it slows you down , burns more gas and can help you get stuck in big drifts by diffing in so much where without them you could skip over top of the snow drift

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In most cases you are right. 
however  if there is no snow to  cool snowmobiles  atvs still work and

In the town I live in I can drive my atv down the main road to the beach and onto the lake or all the way to big bay point on the road and onto the lake   I can’t do that with a snowmobile in this town  Unless I run on the road and destroy my skis and carbines 

but if you have to trailer it to the lake snowmobiles are safer on thin ice and jumping pressure cracks , deeper snow and if you want to make long runs they are faster

 

 

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Yep, all valid points. I can run my sled on pretty  much glare ice with scratchers and a fan cooled engine. I just need a few rough patches to throw a bit of ice/snow in the tunnel for the sliders. Doesn't take much. Most cases my carbides makee enough for the sliders. 

Nothing worse than returning from fishing on your atv to find a crack has opened up 2ft. I don't like crossing cracks on rubber tires. On a sled, you don't even notice it. Carry ramps on your bike. 

S. 

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Yes, not fun. A few years ago we were out between the islands from beaverton. The main lake wasn't totally frozen yet. A crack 20ft wide in places opened up. The huge pan of ice was drifting for the open water. It was an adventure. I don't know how the bikes got off, but we jumped it on sleds.....barely lol 

 

Fun times! 

 

S. 

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1 minute ago, Terry said:

only to have to jump a 3 ft wide crack wit a ATV towing a shack 

Been there done that! Talk about a butt pucker, as you pin the throttle

Dan.

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I think the sled is better for a dedicated machine as well and I’ve gone both routes.  To be honest we’ve done a fair bit of running around on mostly glare and even with a liquid with studs haven’t had too many problems.  Just watch the temp and don’t beat on the machine.  Mostly we are either sitting at a prospect location for a while fishing, or we are doing short hops looking for fish.  I’ve been surprised how little trouble we’ve had.  If you where going straight from Beaverton to Keswick on glare you’d have problems though!  A fan cooled would be even better!  I’ve run a 350cc atv a fair bit on the ice and it did just fine with chains and was very easy to get unstuck as they’re pretty light.  I think the best app around machine you could go with for an atv would be a Honda 500.  Have fun shopping.

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I have a 660 Can Am and it was perfect. I found I never really needed to go fast with all my stuff. If your pulling a big sled with all your gear, you cant really go that fast anyways. I mean my ATV will do 90kmh; but I never go past 30 on the lake just because it doesnt need to. Its easy to pull the sled, easy to go on and off the lake. 

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1 hour ago, TJames said:

I have a 660 Can Am and it was perfect. I found I never really needed to go fast with all my stuff. If your pulling a big sled with all your gear, you cant really go that fast anyways. I mean my ATV will do 90kmh; but I never go past 30 on the lake just because it doesnt need to. Its easy to pull the sled, easy to go on and off the lake. 

Just not so nice crossing cracks, and when the snow is deep. Otherwise, the rubber tire machines are great. They can carry a lot of gear right on them as well, with no sleigh. I like that. 

I cross big cracks pretty much every trip, and I do a lot of icefishing, in many areas of the province, so for me personally, a sled is the way to go. You won't be taking your wheeled machines into back lakes, or single track snowmobile trails in most places north of hwy 7 for most of the winter. 

Bikes are generally harder to start in the cold as well. 

Sleds are useless in the summer though, so that's a big advantage!!! 

S. 

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My atv has no trouble in deep snow lol 

you can travel much faster on a snowmobile then atv and not to forget them pressure cracks   
but I did use an atv more then a snowmobile because I can run the roads  if I had to trailer I’m sure I would use the snowmobile more 

 

A0D0D043-FACF-47D6-969B-0ABD0B212BFF.jpeg

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3 hours ago, Sinker said:

Just not so nice crossing cracks, and when the snow is deep. Otherwise, the rubber tire machines are great. They can carry a lot of gear right on them as well, with no sleigh. I like that. 

I cross big cracks pretty much every trip, and I do a lot of icefishing, in many areas of the province, so for me personally, a sled is the way to go. You won't be taking your wheeled machines into back lakes, or single track snowmobile trails in most places north of hwy 7 for most of the winter. 

Bikes are generally harder to start in the cold as well. 

Sleds are useless in the summer though, so that's a big advantage!!! 

S. 

Ya depending where you are your not allowed to take an ATV on snowmobile trails. So if you need trail access ATVs are a no, but that depends if its a regulated sled trail. Ive been plenty north of 7 on back lakes with an ATV though, most of the time sleds have packed the trails down so its no issue. I see more ATVs than sleds in winter, but maybe its where I am (which is north of 7 lol, arent all lakes north of 7 anyways?). 

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Snowmobiling is on the way out, last I heard from a couple of dealers, ATV's are outselling sleds by a wide margin simply due to almost year round use.  Can't put a snowplow on a sled, well maybe Terry can, lol.

 

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18 hours ago, Fisherman said:

Snowmobiling is on the way out, last I heard from a couple of dealers, ATV's are outselling sleds by a wide margin simply due to almost year round use.  Can't put a snowplow on a sled, well maybe Terry can, lol.

 

I dunno who you heard this from but perhaps they were drunk at the time?   Snowmobiles aren't going anywhere.  

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5 minutes ago, Fisherman said:

From a  couple dealerships and I know the people don't imbibe on alcohol or other hallucinogens.   

I'd like to see those dealer take quads into a few back lakes I fish come winter time :)   Time and place for everything.  

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4 hours ago, LeXXington said:

I am not as fast as the others, I burn more gas but I have never got stuck.

I plow my driveway when not ice fishing.

If I went fishing more I would love to have a sled but get the best bang for the buck with my machine

image.jpeg

That's the cat's arse for sure. With a regular quad no matter how good the tires are and how much power it has if you get the frame hung up you are stuck. Same with a 4x4 truck. Out of curiosity, have you ever deliberately tried to get it stuck like in a deep drift just to see if you could?

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25 minutes ago, smitty55 said:

That's the cat's arse for sure. With a regular quad no matter how good the tires are and how much power it has if you get the frame hung up you are stuck. Same with a 4x4 truck. Out of curiosity, have you ever deliberately tried to get it stuck like in a deep drift just to see if you could?

I did some drift testing.. just like a little tank just plowed through.  If a snow mobile could go I could make it..   up hills is an issue as a snowmobile could get a run at it.. I just plog along 

We also did a slush test and again it just plowed through.. I do not recommend it on a super cold day as the ice build up can cause an issue.

My bike is a 450 so fairly light..

 

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