Avid fisherman don’t have to wait until spring to get a big catch. In the northern half of the United States, ice fishing is a popular and fun recreational hobby. Whether on your own property or a public lake, ice fishing can be a new and exciting adventure. However, it can be dangerous if not executed correctly.
The first aspect of ice fishing safety is understanding the ice itself. New ice is stronger than old ice. Clear, newly formed ice will be able to support more than old, partially thawed ice. It’s also important to know that ice doesn’t freeze uniformly. While it may be up to 12 inches thick in one location, it may only be a couple of inches just a few steps away. Recommended ice thickness (new ice) is as follows:
Two inches or less – Not safe. Stay off.
Four inches – ice fishing is mostly safe, but only on foot.
Five to eight inches – a snowmobile or ATV is safe.
Eight to twelve inches – a car or small truck is safe.
Before going out on the ice, there are many guidelines you should follow to ensure your safety. The first is to watch the weather and dress accordingly. Dress in layers starting with a layer closest to the skin that will keep you dry. The slightest bit of perspiration can contribute to frostbite or hypothermia. Here are some other guidelines to follow:
- Wear a life vest under your winter clothes. It’s also a good idea to carry a pair of ice picks with you that can help you pull yourself back up in case you fall through the ice.
- Stay away from alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can case careless judgement and makes you colder.
- Don’t drive on the ice. Even if you think the ice is safe, it may have spots that aren’t. If you have to drive, keep the windows down and have a plan of action in case of an emergency.
- Check for thin ice areas. The local bait shop will probably have some information on areas to avoid. You can also check yourself with an ice chisel or ice auger.
- Keep the right tools. Keep a compass strapped to you and take a compass reading of your route before leaving shore. It’s easy to lose your sense of direction once it starts getting dark or if a winter storm approaches.
Remember to always carry your fishing license with you to avoid any fees or penalties. You should also review your state fishing regulations to find out about any restrictions or new changes. Overall, have fun and enjoy!
If you want your own land to fish on, United Country Real Estate specializes in recreational, hunting and waterfront properties nationwide. Call one of our expert agents near you to get started.