Ice fishing safety tips

By David M. Waters

Ice fishing safety is a matter of using your common sense. Be sure to take a few sensible precautionary measures, and always pay attention. And always keep in mind that ice fishing safety is up to you. Your safety is very important, so along with making sure the ice is safe, be sure to have the proper warm clothing, such as a good pair of gloves, a warm hat and winter boots, ideally equipped with traction devises.

If you plan to drive any type of vehicle on the ice take special precautions. Always check the ice thickness by make test holes with your auger. If you are driving on the ice watch for any holes or large chunks of ice. It is best to refrain from driving on ice whenever possible.

Check the ice thickness before going out on any frozen lake. Be particularly aware of variations in ice thickness due to various conditions such as springs, inlets and outlets, tributaries, etc. On both rivers and lakes, warm inflows from springs can create areas of thinner ice.

If someone else falls through be sure to act quickly by calling 911 or the appropriate emergency number for your region. If you do fall through the ice, make sure you don’t panic. Use your ice picks if you have them, or any other sharp tools to dig into the ice and pull yourself out. Try to get out on the ice you just walked on. Do not go forward but go back to the last safe ice that supported you..

If you are alone and go through the ice, take a few seconds to get over the cold shock. It is unwise to go out on ice alone, especially if you can’t swim or are physically unable to handle an emergency, should one arise. Ideally use the buddy system; the best idea is to NEVER venture on the ice alone. You may want to have a good length of strong rope and possibly a life preserver. Having taken all of these precautions, you are now ready to try and catch some fish!

David Waters is an avid fisherman and outdoorsman with over 30 years of experience fishing, hiking and camping. A resident of Massachusetts and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, David has been helping other fisherman enjoy the sport in a variety of ways.