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Ice Fishing Safety

Don’t let the cold weather keep you indoors. Get out and catch some fish! Ice fishing is fun for all ages and offers great outdoor opportunities to connect with others.

Before heading out, be sure you are fully prepared for your ice fishing trip. Follow these ice fishing tips to create a fun, safe and memorable trip:

Never fish alone.
To ensure better safety, go ice fishing with others. In addition, bring a cell phone with you and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.

Check weather and ice conditions.
Bring a portable radio with you to periodically check weather conditions.

Natural ice should be at least 4 inches thick before walking on it. When walking on ice, it’s also best to walk single-file. If using a snowmobile or ATV, check that ice is at least 6 – 10 inches in thickness.

Stay warm by dressing in layers, especially when ice fishing for long periods of time. Items of clothing to consider: thermal underwear, fleece or wool, and wind and waterproof outerwear. To be fully prepared, leave extra clothes, food and water in your car. If sunny, also consider bringing sunscreen and sunglasses.

Be prepared for emergencies.
Bringing a variety of safety materials and equipment can help ensure that your trip is safe and stress-free. Some items you may want to consider:

  • Boots or grippers to provide traction when venturing on ice by foot
  • Compass or GPS
  • Dry towels 
  • Extra gloves 
  • First aid kit for emergencies
  • Ice picks or awls
  • Personal flotation device to be worn under your coat
  • Rope 
  • Sled to transport all your ice fishing gear

Be aware of your surroundings.
When you’re out on the ice, watch your step. Avoid ice fishing near feeder streams, logs, plants or docks. Also, steer clear of ice cracks, ice popping and dark-colored ice.

Practice ice etiquette.
Be sure to keep your fishing holes small and few when drilling in the ice. Bigger holes are unnecessary and could pose as a potential safety threat for others.

Groups should also avoid congregating in one area. Weight and fishing holes should be dispersed so that ice does not weaken.

Have fun!
Enjoy the company, natural surroundings and fresh air when you’re out ice fishing. Ice fishing provides great opportunities to learn a unique winter activity and swap fish stories with others. Pack up your gear, take proper safety precautions and catch some fish!