As the cold weather rolls in, the lakes will start to freeze. For avid fishing fans, that is always a special time of the year. In today’s post, we are offering tips for staying safe while ice fishing.
Beware of Thin Ice
The first part of staying safe while ice fishing involves thin ice. In very basic terms, you cannot always rely on your eyes or the temperature. There are many factors that can affect the thickness of the ice. Put simply, if the ice is too thin, it is quite easy to break through and find yourself in serious trouble.
On the whole, you always want the ice to be a thick as possible. Typically, staying safe while ice fishing requires a minimum of four inches of ice. That should be enough to support a person and the fishing gear.
In snowy conditions, extra precaution is needed. In these situations, the ice will be covered in snow, which adds extra pressure on the ice. This means you’ll want at least double that thickness for a minimum of eight inches of ice. This snow can also act as a sort of insulation, actually warming the ice. Both of these conditions make the ice more likely to crack.
To learn more about avoiding thin ice, read our dedicated blog post
Dangers of Falling Through the Ice
Becoming trapped under the ice can obviously lead to drowning danger. Beyond that, the sudden surprise of your body being submerged in freezing water can lead to cold water shock
. This condition can cause a would-be ice fisher to lose control of their limbs, hampering their mobility in the water. As an additional danger, the body’s automatic reaction to sudden cold submersion is to involuntarily gulp for air. When you are underwater, this can cause you to accidentally inhale frosty cold water deep into your lungs.
Staying Safe While Ice Fishing
The above tips are applicable to most ice-based activities. When it comes to staying safe while ice fishing, there are some special precautions to keep in mind. To start, you should always be prepared and organized. A careful fisher is a safe fisher.
In a nutshell, you should know exactly what gear you are bringing and be set up before heading out onto the ice. Your tackle box should be organized so you don’t need to fumble around.
Once your rod, seat and gear are set up, don’t move them. It is important to know where they are at all times. Far too many swimmers have tripped over a tackle box and tumbled into the icy water.
When casting your line, be careful not to cast too wide. You can injure another fisher or yourself. Additionally, when reeling in a catch, keep your cool. The little creature will be struggling for dear life, which means an ice fisher needs to act precisely and carefully to retrieve the hook.
Finally, always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. According to the Red Cross
, about half of U.S. citizens cannot swim well enough to save themselves from drowning. That said, no matter what your swimming ability, a life jacket can help. Keeping afloat is crucial, especially when you’re standing on or in a frozen body of water.