Across the country, winter is starting to settle in. This means lakes will soon be locked up with ice and anglers will be venturing out in search of cold weather fishing. With this in mind, it’s important to take a second and remember safe ice fishing techniques that will keep you dry and alive while fishing.
There is no such thing as safe ice
This is what needs to always be in the back of ice angler’s minds. As ice forms, it can develop weak spots due to impurities in the water, warm water flows, waterfowl, and current. In the later winter season ice can also deteriorate quickly because of these same reasons. Ice may appear safe but in actuality it can be very weak. To remain safe always stay alert to ice conditions around you. If you see the ice bow under your weight or come upon ice that appears weak, slowly back up the same way you came. Staying vigilant is the first step to safety.
As ice forms there is always the temptation to be the first one out and to the fish but don’t rush it. Ice needs to be a minimum of 4 inches of clear ice to support a person. Many people will try to venture out on less, but they are putting their lives at risk. If you are unsure how thick the ice is and there isn’t anyone out on the ice yet, do yourself a favor and wait, it’s not worth ending up cold and wet or worse…
One tool that is invaluable while ice fishing is a spud bar. This long metal shaft is used to poke the ice as you walk. If the spud bar makes a hollow sound, or worse, goes through, the ice is not safe and you should immediately evacuate the area.
Another life saving device while ice fishing is a flotation device. Many people have taken to wearing life preservers while ice fishing. These preservers are designed to help you float if you fall through. There are also a number of floatation suits on the market, such as the Mustang suit, which keep you both warm and mobile while providing floatation should you fall in.
Finally, ice picks should be worn whenever possible. These picks, which are worn around the neck on a lanyard, are designed to be used as a last resort to free yourself from the ice should you fall in. Ice picks are usually sharp metal spikes that are molded into a durable plastic handle. Should a person fall in, the picks can be used to crawl onto safe ice through stabbing the picks into the ice and pulling yourself out.
Safety on safe ice
In addition to the risk of falling though unsafe ice, safe ice can pose a risk as well. Because of the slippery nature of ice, ice anglers should wear ice cleats whenever possible. These cleats, which generally slip over boots, are used to provide traction when walking. Without these it is much easier to slip and fall which can cause broken bones, concussions, and other major injuries.
While these safety tips are helpful, common sense is the number one life saving tool a person can use. Please, if you plan on enjoying some ice sports this winter, consider these basic safety tips and tools to keep yourself safe this winter.
Please consider watching this video, it may save your life!