By Stacey Sutherlin
It is so important that you check the ice you plan to fish. Thickness is so important!
They recommend the following thicknesses:
* 2 inches or less STAY OFF
* 4 inches walking
* 5 – 7 inches snowmobiles and ATVs
* 8 – 12 inches cars and small trucks
* 12 – 15 inches medium trucks
These are the recommend guidelines for clear ice only.
It is important to bring a friend for safety. Having someone with you to assist if you fall through the ice is important. It is also important to check in with a reliable family member or friend before you head out, letting them know your specific location, what time you’re leaving and when you plan to head back.
As you head out on the ice, before leaving land, make sure the ice is solid and safe. Many lives are lost each year because safety isn’t first and foremost and the ice isn’t safe. Ice will be thicker toward the shore and get thinner toward the middle of a lake/body of water.
You want clear ice. Avoid ice that has cracks, is black, pitted or slushy. As you travel out on the ice, use your auger to drill holes to check the ice thickness. Using trekking poles as you walk out to check the ice ahead of you is a good idea as well. Keep about 6 feet between you and the person in front or behind you as you walk just in case the ice breaks and one of you goes in. This space is a safe space so you both don’t fall in, in this instance, and allows for the person to assist the other out of the water should this happen.
– Dress warm – Wearing layers is smart but you want to be able to function and move safely.
– Insulated waterproof footwear
– Gloves (packing extra pairs is a good idea)
– Base layers
– Neck gaiter
– Waterproof insulated pants
– Waterproof jacket
– HotHands brand warmers
You know your limits and what you are capable of, but staying warm is so important. The cold and freezing temperatures can bring hypothermia quickly so you want to be dressed appropriately and be prepared. If a snowstorm is set to move in or it’s a windy day, it’s best to plan to hit the hard water when the weather changes for the better.
– Ice cleats – Provide grip so you don’t slip and slide and result in a fall on the ice.
– Trekking poles
– First aid kit – I never go on any adventure outdoors without a first aid kit, you never know when you may need to use it for yourself or someone else.
– Extra clothes – Pack an extra set of clothes in your dry bag in case you fall in, get wet or need to change to avoid hypothermia.
Ice fishing is truly an extreme sport. Be cautious and be aware of your surroundings and environment. There are risks involved with ice fishing that are important for you to be prepared for.
Reach out to locals, check for ice fishing forums online that may be helpful, check with your Department of Fish and Game for helpful pointers, and I highly recommend you do a great deal of research that increases your confidence before trekking out.
Know the local laws for the waters you plan to fish to include gear allowed, limits and other laws that may be in place.