If you are a fan of ice fishing, you already know how fun it can be! But I must warn you that fishing in ice comes with its own risks too.
From going under the icy water to breaking a bone, all sorts of risks should be considered while ice fishing. But hold on, need not worry yet! Here are some safety measures you need to follow to get only the fun part of ice fishing. Here are 11 Ice Fishing safety tips you should maintain.
So what are the Ice fishing safety tips?
1. Check weather-forecast
Before going out to ice- fishing, it’s mandatory to check with the weather forecast. Because-
- The condition of ice can change in a matter of hours, and you might jeopardize your safety by your ignorance of the environment you will fish in.
- Winter storm and low pressure can get you an outrageous amount of bites, but if you don’t know the exact time, you might get caught into a storm.
- A heavy wind can be a problem if you have less tolerance for cold. It can also be hard to navigate your equipment in a heavy wind.
2. Gather information
Know about the place you have decided to go fishing before you start digging around. That will help you to maintain ice fishing safety by-
- Having advance knowledge of where the ice is enough thin to make it dangerous to walk on.
- Giving you an idea of what kind of transportation you can use on that lake.
- Letting you know beforehand about the water movement and which way the water mostly flows. Ice can be comparatively thinner in those places. It will help you be cautious about which parts of the lake you should avoid.
3. Use gadgets
Electronic gadgets will help you in navigating your position and also give you your much-needed comfort. The gadgets you can use while fishing in ice-
- Use GPS to know which direction you are going so you don’t lose your sense of direction.
- Use Vexilar to learn the thickness of ice of the place you are planning to fish in.
- Use a proper ventilator for your tent if you are using one.
- You can use portable heaters if the cold gets too unbearable. I assume you won’t want a case of hypothermia in your fishing sessions!
4. Inform your plans
Ice fishing can turn into an unpredictable situation. So, always let a family or friend know about your plans as a precautionary method. Inform them about-
- Which lake you are choosing to fish in.
- Which part of the lake you choose for fishing.
- How long you are planning to spend fishing. Even if you change your mind about the time, inform them via a text or call.
5. Don’t fish alone
Even if you love fishing alone, always bring a friend or a local to fish with you for your own safety. Bringing another person can help you by-
- Giving you a helping hand in terms of emergencies
- Helping you in using the tools for digging a hole. Tools can be hard to navigate and dangerous if you are alone.
- Asking for help in case something goes wrong.
6. Ice thickness
Ice thickness is the most crucial reason behind half of the accidents that happen while ice fishing. Follow these guidelines based on ice thickness while moving around in an icy lake for ice fishing safety measures.
- If the thickness of ice is less than 3 inches, don’t step a foot on it.
- If it is 4 inches thick it’s safe for ice fishing and walking.
- If the ice is 5 to 8 inches thick, you can move with snowmobiles and ATV.
- If it’s up to 12 inches in thickness, you can even drive a car on it.
7. Careful while choosing tools
Ice fishing requires digging holes. And losing footing or injuring yourself with tools is quite common while digging holes. To avoid these accidents, you need the right tools. Tools to use for each ice thickness-
- You can use augers for 4 inches thick ice.
- For 4-6 inches of ice thickness, you can use axes.
- If the ice is closer to 12 inches thick, it’s better to use digging iron first, then use augers to complete digging the hole.
- If the ice is thicker than 12 inches, then it’s better to use power augers with digging irons.
8. Beware of the tools
Tools can become a weapon against you if you don’t know how to use them properly. Some cautious steps that you need to take while using tools-
- While using a chainsaw use it in a slight angle to avoid putting upper body pressure. Otherwise, it will cause slipping the chainsaw from your hand and losing footing. Both are risky at that point.
- While using digging iron make sure it has a wrist sling. As digging iron has sharp edges bottoms it safe to have something reliable to hold it.
- Ice chisel should have a handle on the bottom because to chiseling the ice can be slippery if you don’t have a handle.
- While working with an ax, use safety goggles to save your eyes from ice shards.
- Avoid putting upward pressure while using an auger. It also can cause you to lose footing as the chainsaw does.
9.Lights for attention
Flashlights, led lights, pack a few of them with you. Their uses are-
- Lights can be seen from a far distance, which will tell your presence to any driver on snowmobiles and cars. It is a precautionary step as fogs sometimes make it harder to see the road ahead.
- Lights will help you in drawing attention if you get lost or fall down in a hole.
10. Mind the cold
Ice fishing is always about feeling the cold, but you need to keep in mind when to stop. If not, it can be proved deadly for you. What you need to do is –
- Use a heater if the cold becomes unbearable because the last thing you need is falling victim to the cold and lose your focus on where you are stepping your foot on.
- Quickly wrap it up if you see any sign of hypothermia because it can become a life threat in a matter of minutes.
- Make sure to remain dry and avoid sweating. That will make the cold situation worse.
11. Proper clothing
“Dress to win” becomes “dress to live” in case of ice fishing. You need not subject yourself too cold to the point where you risk your health. What you need to do is-
- Avoid over warming clothes. Just wear enough to keep you warm, but not too warm to create perspiration.
- Don’t wear cotton socks, try wearing wool and synthetic socks
- Wear waterproof boots.
- Stop over-exposure of skin to avoid sunburn and use sunscreen
- Sunglass to save the eyes and mufflers and hats if you need them.
- Use waterproof coveralls while digging to avoid getting wet.
12. Use spikes
Slipping in ice is a common occurrence. It can break a bone or lead to more serious injuries. To avoid that, you can use spikes. What you can do is-
- If you can manage a safety spike with a handle that is contoured for finger, you can have a firm grip on ice even if you slip down.
- You can use spiked boots that help you have a firm footing on ice because those spikes underneath your booth will penetrate in ice and stop you from slipping.
13. Bring necessities
Being prepared is the key to be safe in the ice. The necessities you need to pack in your bag are-
- Enough food to last a day or two.
- Water to stay hydrated. Dehydration in ice is very dangerous as the cold doesn’t let you feel if you are thirsty or not. You should hydrate yourself every hour, even you are not thirsty.
- Ice scrapers for cleanup.
- A small first aid kit for emergency situations
- Extra clothes in case you soak your clothes. Wet clothes are a big no in ice fishing.
- The cell phone is a must item to pack
14. Extra batteries
Electronics like cell phones, GPS, and heater are a must while ice fishing. So are batteries to operate them. But you can’t risk losing the use of them just because you are out of batteries.
Extra batteries or solar-powered batteries can help you in case of emergencies. Otherwise, you might end up with no source of communicating or navigating your way in the lake.
15. Floating suit and throwing rope
Losing footing and falling down in a dug hole is not uncommon is ice fishing. These two are necessary if you go under the water.
- The floating suit will help you to not sink. Even if you know swimming, cold can immobile your muscles. At that time, a floating suit is your only saving grace from cold and sinking.
- Ropes are to pull someone up if they fall down.
Some of these Ice fishing safety tips are only for precaution. Some of them are for when you have no other options to save yourself. Keep them in mind and enjoy ice fishing while keeping yourself safe and healthy!
Are you new to Ice fishing? Read our 3000 words long Ice Fishing Guide for all the basic information.
Special thanks to Takemefishing.