Ice fishing is a popular social and solitary winter pastime in the North Country. Know the locations, regulations, and ice safety before venturing out!
The most important information you need to know when ice fishing are the safety precautions! Falling through the ice can mean death!
It doesn’t have to happen. In fact, it shouldn’t. Yet every year New York Outdoor News will publish a couple of stories with tragic endings involving ice fishermen. Maybe they’re on foot, maybe they’re on snowmobile or ATV or driving a truck out onto the ice. But the consequences of not taking a safety-first approach can be deadly. (Lake Champlain Region)
The chart to the above shows the minimum ice thickness that is safe for various weights. It’s always best to be cautious and wait for a few more inches if you’re unsure!
The guide is based on clear, blue, hard ice on non-running waters. Slush ice is about 50 percent weaker. Clear, blue ice over running water is about 20 percent weaker. (NYDEC)
Check out the NYDEC’s ice walking safety tips! Use the buddy system so that you are never alone out on the ice. Carry ice picks to help pull you out if you fall through.
Know the Ice and Water Conditions
Be cautious of thick snow cover, which can create an insulating effect that may make for dangerous sloppy ice formation. Avoid areas of moving water, including where rivers and streams enter the lake, and around spillways and dams because the movement can weaken and thin the ice.
While most state fish and wildlife agencies, including New York’s DEC, offer ice safety tips, their recommended minimum ice thickness for safe travel on foot, snowmobile/ATV or small or medium truck is based on clear ice conditions – in essence, perfect ice. And perfect is a rarity in Mother Nature. That’s why it’s important to know just what kind of ice you’re dealing with.
Too, conditions such as current under the ice, or springs within a body of water, can dramatically alter ice thickness. Knowing a body of water intimately is critical when you’re walking on the hard water. If you’re not sure, go somewhere else where ice fishermen are already out there fishing.(Lake Champlain Region)
Ice is never 100% safe! Use caution any and every time you venture out onto the ice, no matter what the temperature or the ice thickness.
Check out this series of ice fishing safety videos for more information and tips.