It took a while, but winter is finally upon us. This year, an increasing number of people are beating cabin fever by taking up ice fishing. Ice fishing gets you out into the Great Outdoors and lets you bond with friends.
Before you sink your line, you’ll want to keep a few tips for how to stay safe while ice fishing in mind.
A dozen ways to stay safe while ice fishing
- Mind the ice, ice baby. It’s imperative that the ice on which you fish is safe. Here are some guidelines to make sure it is:
- Assess its thickness. Four inches is the minimum thickness on which you should walk and fish on ice.
- Remember that ice doesn’t freeze in a uniform way. There can be a dramatic difference in ice just a few feet away, so use caution if you’re moving about.
- Keep in mind that new ice is stronger than old ice. Use extra caution toward the end of the season.
- Beware of snow. Snow slows down the freezing process and adds extra weight to ice.
- Get a good read on the ice. If a trusted bait shop doesn’t know the thickness of the ice, you can find out yourself with an ice chisel or ice auger.
- Check out the ice’s color. Soft ice is typically gray, dark or porous, while thick ice has a blue tint.
- Take a pass on fishing if you’re at all unsure about the ice’s thickness. Safe is always better than sorry.
- Venture out with someone else and tell a land-bound person your plans. Tell a friend or family member where you plan on fishing and what time you’ll be arriving home. If you don't arrive home on time, then that person can alert authorities.
- Lay off the drinks. Even a little alcohol can put you at risk of making a dangerous mistake. Plus, contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not make you warmer.
- Dress warmly. Frostbite is a serious risk on cold winter days, so dressing in warm layers is key. Have your final layer be something waterproof and windproof.
- Wear a life vest under your clothes. Another option is a flotation snowmobile suit.
- Carry something sharp. If you fall in, you want something sharp that you can dig into the ice to help you out. Picks, ice claws and bear claws are all good options.
With all luck, you’ll enjoy a fun winter day and even catch a few fish. Warm up once you’re home with a hot drink and a safe fire.