Ice Fishing Safety: Tips You Should Never Ignore

A certain breed of anglers waits all year for winter. Their dreams are haunted not only by the hard water but also by the steam from the cold air and the numb fingers that pull big fish through the ice.

Ice fishing enthusiasts know cold weather can bring hot fishing. They are already lubricating their tip-ups, restringing ice rods, and making sure their pop-ups stay in top condition.

ice fishing safety

Do you find this familiar?

It’s important to remember safety when you prepare for winter angling. reminds us that “On average” is the best way to stay safe. Each winter, four to five people die from ice fishing in North America this is usually due to a mixture of too much alcohol, too little brains, and thin ice.

A few common-sense tips will help you stay safe while enjoying your time on the ice.

Safety tips for Ice fishing

Be aware of the ice

Ice anglers have a saying: Thick and blue, tried and tested. Too risky to be white and crisp.

Science supports this old wives’ tale. The more air that is trapped inside ice becomes whiter, the less it retains as bubbles. All that air trapped in the ice weakens it, which reduces its capacity to support loads and can lead to unexpected, sudden failures.

Gray ice can be a sign that melting is taking place and should be avoided! You can find out more here!

According to the Star Tribune reports there are many indicators of weak ice. Ice can lose up to 40% of its strength in a single crack. An area where two cracks intersect could see ice lose as much as 75 percent. Another indicator that it is time to get rid of the ice, or keep it off: The appearance of pressure ridges, water near crack edges, and snowcovered areas.

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However, Rick Slatten, from the St. Louis County Rescue Squad, reminds us that you can’t judge the strength or appearance of ice by its appearance. But it’s a good starting point.

However, there are many ways to be certain. warns that “the most important thing concerning ice security is that ice thickness is not uniform in a body of water. If you intend to cross a body or stay on it for a prolonged period of time, you should check the thickness of the Ice in multiple areas.

It is important to test the ice in numerous spots and thoroughly. Always keep an emergency kit. Ice chisel determines the thickness of ice, and how thick it needs to be to bear the weight that you are considering putting on it.

Learn how to save yourself

However, mistakes do happen. If something goes wrong, don’t panic! Have a plan.

Panic can be caused by a sudden plunge into icy waters.

Experts at IFLScience say you can expect a shock when your body hits the water. Your body will experience a “cold water shock”, which is a physiological response. Your heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure will increase dramatically due to the shock. This can lead to sudden death or ventricular fibrillation.

What should you do?

Slow down your breathing and relax. There is still time to save your life before hypothermia sets in.

Start moving in the opposite direction as you came, and then kick your legs while pulling your arms against the ice. Move your upper body as far as possible onto the ice, “swimming up” towards the edge and away. Next, roll your body away.

These videos provide excellent instruction:

It is essential to have emergency gear

Failure to plan is a recipe for disaster.

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A fall through the ice can be life-threatening. Basic safety gear such as ice picks, throw ropes, or bags are essential.

It is also a good idea to have a full flotation suit.

Frabill’s 6579 Ice Picks can be worn underneath your clothing, so they are out of sight until you need them. These picks can be used to grab the ice and lift your upper body out of the water. These picks make self-rescue easier and cost less than a few dollars.

Frabill Ice Picks

Distance is crucial for rescue.

You can both get in trouble if you are too close to a friend who has just broken the ice. Instead, getaway and throw something like a Best Marine throwback

Best Marine throw bag

The Clam Icearmor Ascent Float Bib has been reviewed before and we really like it. Pairing it with the Clam Icearmor AscentFloat Parka will increase your chances of staying afloat for long enough to regain your wits, and take care of your emergency.

Clam Icearmor Ascent Float Bib

You can’t afford to neglect emergency gear, even if it’s been used thousand times without any problems.

Never fish by yourself and share your plans with others

The buddy system saves lives and is adopted by everyone, from divers to climbers.

Never venture out on the ice by yourself. Always bring at least one partner to enjoy the experience and to provide support in an emergency.

Although self-rescue is possible, it’s much easier to get help. Don’t forget to get out of the water. You’ll likely have difficulty using your hands. If you need help with starting a heater, getting out of wet clothes, or unlocking your truck’s door, it’s worth it.

It is always a smart decision to tell someone where you are going and when you expect you to return.

Auger safety

An ice angler’s best friend is a powerful, sharp auger. It’s easy to get complacent as you drill hole after hole.

Here are some safety tips that will help you in the real world.

  • When running an auger, avoid wearing loose clothes. You can easily be hurt if your pants or jacket get caught in the blade.
  • You can keep the blade covered until your auger is ready. Remove it slowly and with care. Although it sounds easy, many anglers know that this is the best way to make a big cut.
  • It’s time to replace that cover! Replace it ASAP!
  • Never use a gasoline-powered auger in a shelter or tent.
  • No matter how well ventilated.
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Use an outdoor heater only inside a shelter or tent.

No matter what you hear, an outdoor heater in a shelter is a good idea. Kill.

Outdoor heaters can be used in open spaces such as construction sites or sporting events. They can be useful for keeping warm in tents or on open ice. However, they pose a danger to your health. They can produce deadly levels of carbon monoxide which is a silent killer. They should not be used in enclosed spaces like tents, vented or unventilated.

We only recommend indoor heaters with low-oxygen sensors. Mr. Heater Buddy is a great option that will keep your pop-up warm and allow you to enjoy the memories of the fish you caught.

Mr. Heater Buddy Ice Fishing Heater

You can save the drinks for tall tales at home

Ice fishing and alcohol don’t mix.

The blood flow to your extremities increases with alcohol, which can make you feel warm. However, it is actually cooling you down.

But, most importantly, hard water is not safe to drink, despite the dangers posed by sharp augers, dangerous ice, snow machines, and trucks that drive home.

When you are recounting the great one that you pulled through the ice, save the drinks for home.

Last Thoughts

These common-sense tips will help you to stay safe on the ice in winter. We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and are now thinking about how you can avoid any accidents.

We’d love to hear your thoughts as always!

Leave a comment and see the rest of our ice fishing tips.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.