Ice Fishing Safety Tips & Equipment …
Ice fishing the lakes of the beautiful British Columbia Interior is very popular and a lot of fun! The ice usually appears on our lakes in mid to late fall and can remain well into the spring. Each winter thousands of anglers venture out onto frozen lakes to fish through the ice and, unfortunately, each winter there are ice related accidents. As much as we love to fish, ice over cold lake water can pose some serious, life threatening dangers. Please keep the following tips in mind when playing near or on the ice …….
Ice Fishing Safety Tips | Ice Thickness Rules …
* this chart is for new hard clear ice. No fish is worth risking your life over so please don’t take a chance!!
Ice Fishing Safety Tips & Equipment | Gear & Common Sense ..
Be observant …
- Avoid going onto the ice if it has melted away from the shore line … this indicates melting is underway.
- Be aware of ice near inlet and outlet streams … it can be much thinner in these areas.
- Aerators help keep our fish oxygenated but, as a result, they create areas of open water … be aware that the ice can be thinner many feet beyond where the ice is actually open. Stay well outside fenced or signed areas.
Life jackets … they aren’t just for summer anymore. Should you fall through the ice, a personal floatation device (PFD) will increased buoyancy and assist to keep your head and shoulders above water. This is especially important as cold water shocks the system potentially causing loss of breath – and with less air in the lungs the body is less apt to float. The added buoyancy of a PFD also aids in escape.
Spud bar … a long metal or metal tipped wood pole can be used to probe unsure areas of ice as you walk along. They can also be used as a walking stick to help keep your balance when traveling on the slippery ice.
Safety spikes … are designed to give you traction to escape should you break through the ice. Sold in pairs, safety spikes can be bought at stores but can also be easily made of wooden dowels and nails. By driving a nail into the end of a two one inch diameter dowels you can create a floating tool that could very well save your life. Connect the two dowels with eye hooks and a strong cord and then hang them around your neck to be available at a moment’s notice.
Rope … a good length keeps a lifeline ready between you and your buddy. By attaching a piece of wood to one end, the rope can be thrown out and floated to a person who is struggling in the water.
Dry clothes … keep a spare sweatshirt, sweat pants and a pair of wool socks in your vehicle. The faster you can get your body dry, the less chance you have of suffering from hypothermia. Water transfers heat 25 times faster than air so getting dry is paramount after being submerged in near freezing lake water.
Cellular phones … in this day and age almost everybody has one so bring it with you when you hit the ice! If you or someone around you is in immediate danger you can call 911 with directions to the lake or nearest road. When it comes down to it, cellular phones mean winter survival in a province such as British Columbia. Other new technologies such as SPOT are also worth looking into.
Ice creepers … these shoe spikes are relatively inexpensive and provide traction on the ice to prevent falls and injuries. Though you may not go through the ice, a broken arm, sprained ankle, or concussion can end an ice fishing trip just as quickly as getting wet.
A message at home … make sure to let a family member, neighbor or friend know where you are going to be throughout the day. Leave a note with your location on the lake, and the route you will take to get there and back again. Let people know what time you are leaving and what time you plan to arrive back home. This way, if you don’t return as planned, or don’t check in at the designated time, those who care about you will know where to start looking in case of emergency. This rule is not only great for fishing, but for winter travel and outdoor activities in general across our beautiful province!
Heated fishing shanties need ventilation to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning … open a window or the door part way to allow in fresh air.
Alcohol and ice do not mix! When on the ice relaxing don’t drink. Alcohol impairs judgment, increases the dissipation of body heat, and results in fatigue. For these reasons alone, beer and spirits are one piece of equipment that should NOT be brought on the ice. Save the celebration for the fish fry.
Avoid driving on the ice whenever possible, but if you must, have a plan of action for if you do breakthrough …
Ice Fishing Safety Tips | Driving on Ice …
Be prepared to bail out in a hurry by unbuckling your seat belt and driving with the window rolled down and the doors unlocked for an easy escape.
Move your car frequently. Parking in one place for a long period weakens ice.
Don’t park near cracks, and watch out for pressure ridges or ice heaves.
Don’t drive across ice at night or when it is snowing. Reduced visibility increases your chances for driving into an open or weak ice area.
Do not drive fast, follow closely behind, or park near another vehicle on the ice.
Keep an eye on ice and snow conditions ahead of you. If the weather has been warm or heavy snow has depressed the ice, there may be hidden slush traps that can trap a vehicle.
Carry a shovel and tow rope in your vehicle.
Carry waterproof matches and nails or spikes in your pocket to help you get out of the water and warm up afterwards.
If you have a PDF DO NOT wear it when you are in your vehicle as it may impede escape if the vehicle goes through the ice.
Ice Fishing Safety Tips | If You Fall Through the Ice …
Try not to panic (yeah right)! Of course that’s easier said than done, but if you formulate a plan before you actually fall in, your survival chances will be greatly improved. Take deep slow breathes and think about your next move. It is easier said than done, but by keeping your head you can prevail in an emergency situation.
Having said that, time is of the essence so move it!
If in your vehicle … exit it immediately!
Make your way towards the ice edge and break your way to ice that can hold your weight.
Back up … try to exit the hole you fell into by going back the direction you came from. That ice will most likely be stronger and therefore safer than the ice in front of you.
Crawl up onto the ice on your belly, spreading your weight as far as possible.
Use your safety spikes for added traction.
Immediately seek a warm place to remove wet clothes, dry off and warm up! This may mean going to shore and quickly building a fire. Remember, hypothermia can set in quickly and leave you helpless so you need to act fast.
Ice Fishing Safety Tips | Be Prepared & Have Fun …
By being prepared, using your head and respecting the ice, tragedy can be prevented and you can enjoy a day of ice fishing in our great outdoors! If you have any ice safety tips that you would like to share please use the comment area below … we would love to hear from you! 🙂
*** for more ice fishing strategies please hit up & review our ice fishing category here!