Wintertime provides a unique opportunity for fishing and angling enthusiasts looking to wet their lines. But while ice fishing can be fun, it isn’t without risk. Just imagine: you walk out onto the ice, you hear a crack, and before you know it, you’re head-high in bone-chilling water. Keep the fun in your winter fishing adventures by following these simple tips:
- Be prepared. Before you head out, make sure you pack the necessary equipment to make your trip safe and enjoyable. Wear appropriate footwear such as crampons (or creepers) that fit on the bottom of your shoes to give you traction on the ice. Also, bring ice picks, a 50-foot rope, a first-aid kit, dry clothes, and wear a life jacket.
- Dress appropriately. Be sure to keep your head, hands, and feet warm and dry to prevent hypothermia.
- Use the buddy system. Don’t fish alone – be sure to bring a friend who can call for help or attempt a rescue if you fall in. Also, let your family know where you’re fishing and when you plan to be home.
- Spread out. Drilling too many holes in one area is risky. Too many holes, the less stable the ice surface.
- Know the ice. Make sure there’s at least 4 inches of clear, solid ice. Thinner ice may support one person, but ice thickness can vary from spot-on-spot on a lake or river. Snowmobiles and ATVs need 5 inches, and cars and light trucks need at least 8-12 inches.
- Know the current. Be aware of the water current and where the water is flowing. Currents can chew away at the bottom of the ice, thinning it, and weakening it.
- Drive on land, not water. Driving and parking your vehicle on the ice only adds more weight and may cause the ice around you to break.
- Avoid alcohol usage. Alcoholic beverages increase your chances of hypothermia and the likelihood of making a critical mistake on the ice.