We’ve been talking a lot about thin ice these days, but mostly because of sledding and ice skating dangers. Today, let’s talk about a different type of winter fun. Grab your poles and tackle – it’s time to explore some ice fishing safety tips!

Ice Fishing Safety Tips

When it comes to the cold weather, you can never be too careful. That’s why we’ll be sharing some helpful ice fishing safety tips:

Make Sure People Know Your Plans

Just like with basic boating safety, it’s always important to make sure the people who care about you are aware of your plans. Before you go, be sure to leave a detailed itinerary. This should include:

  • When you’re leaving and when you plan to return home
  • The name of the location where you’ll be spending the day. For extra safe, include the exact coordinates to help people locate you in case of trouble. Failing this, simply leave a note that gives a general idea of where you’ll be, such as “near the north shore.”

Next, be absolutely sure that someone knows you’ve created this itinerary. It won’t do much good if no one knows that this helpful information is available! Hand it to your friends or family yourself before heading out. Above all, if you decide to stay a bit later, be sure to contact them to make sure no one becomes worried. No matter what, you should not stay on the ice once it gets dark. Navigation can quickly become very difficult once the sun goes down. No matter how much the fish are biting, lingering too long can be hazardous to your health.

Never Fish Alone

One of the most important ice fishing safety tips is to never fish alone. Whenever possible, go with a friend. Besides the obvious boon of “someone to help pull you out of danger,” another set of hands can be invaluable for a fishing trip. Your friend will be able to assist in determining the safety of the ice or call the authorities in an emergency.

Beware of Thin Ice 

When discussing ice fishing safety tips, thin ice should be at the top of the list. Just like when you’re ice skating during the holiday season, it pays to understand the basics of ice thickness. For example, ice that has snow on top of it can actually be significantly thinner than the uncovered ice nearby. This is because the snow acts as a sort of insulation for the ice, increasing the temperature and decreasing the thickness. The best and most solid ice tends to be clear.

Here are some basic guidelines for ice fishing:

  • Avoid walking on ice that is two inches or less thick. It will not support your weight.
  • At four inches, you should be safe to skate or ice fish.
  • If you’re looking to use an ATV or a snowmobile, nothing thinner than 5 inches will do.

For cars and trucks, you’ll need much thicker ice. That said, when it comes to ice fishing safety, try to leave your vehicles onshore. It’s often not worth the increased risk of disaster.

Wear a Floatation Device to Stay Safe on the Ice

When it comes to ice fishing safety, consider purchasing a floatation suit. This specially designed suit will help to keep you afloat in case of trouble. As with life jackets, you should be absolutely sure that you’re using a U.S. Coast Guard approved suit. At the very least, you should wear a life jacket whenever you will be near the water.

Don’t Forget Your Safety Tools

Finally, no one should set out on the ice without a safety rope and some handspikes. In the event that you fall through the ice, the rope can be used by another person to help pull you to safety and the handspikes will help you to claw your way out of danger. Just be absolutely sure that you know how to use them before heading out. We recommend practicing at home for maximum ice fishing safety.