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11 Ice Fishing Safety Tips – Stay Safe & Stay Alive!

Written by Walter Ashley
Last Update: July 24, 2023

We often are too eager to get on the ice at the beginning of the season and forget about our safety.

It’s time to put our common sense into play before we step out onto the ice!

Is ice fishing safe?

There are always some challenges in ice fishing, but it can be safe with the right mindset,  appropriate precautions, and essential gear.

You will feel safer and more confident in taking on ice fishing by following the tips and guides we shared here.

Ice thickness chart and guidelines

Ice thickness chart and guidelines

Follow the recommended ice thickness below for enhanced safety.

  • 12 to 15 inches – Safe to drive medium trucks
  • 8 to 12 inches – Safe to drive cars and small trucks
  • 5 to 6 inches –  Safe to drive snowmobiles and ATVs
  • 4 inches – Safe for ice fishing
  • 2 inches or less – Keep away!

Essential gears for ice fishing

  • Chisel or spud bar
  • GPS fish finder
  • Portable power bank
  • Cell phone
  • Life jacket or floating ice suit
  • Ice picks
  • Tape measure
  • Safety rope
  • Ice safety spike

11 Ice Fishing Safety Tips to Keep In Mind

1. Share your fishing plans

It’s better to share your fishing plan with your family or friends. What should you share with them?

  • The name and location of the lake where you will go
  • When you’ll get back home

If you change the plan after reaching the fishing spot, notify them over the phone. For example, you can move to another place or can stay longer. If you do so, you should inform them.

2. Bring a companion

Going alone while ice fishing is not a wise decision. It’s better to keep someone along with you who can:

  • Carry your belongings
  • Help you stay worry-free
  • Call authorities if something goes wrong

3. Dress Warm

Make sure to wear appropriate outfits, which will keep you safe and warm.

You should wear a life jacket or floating ice suit, insulated boots, and safety gloves as well.

4. Bring the essential gears

Bringing essential gears is important for ice fishing and crucial to your safety.

5. Ask the locals

You should obviously ask the locals to know the exact level of ice thickness if you’re not familiar with the landscape.

6. Follow the ice thickness guidelines

It’s mandatory to follow the recommended ice thickness guidelines for your safety.

7. Don’t fish alone

There are always risks involved in ice fishing. That’s why you should keep yourself within the eyesight of other people. If something goes wrong, they will help you out.

8. Stay hydrated

The human body struggles to stay warm in cold weather, which can cause quick dehydration.

Staying hydrated is really crucial to surviving while ice fishing. So try to stay hydrated.

In this case, you can add carbohydrates and electrolytes with water to drink. Wearing warm clothes is also effective.

9. Know where you stand

The thickness of ice varies from place to place, for example, ice in the middle of the lake is different from ice on the shore of the lake. Be careful about where you stand.

10. Watch for snow

Snow usually insulates and warms the ice and excess snowing can compromise your safety.

Be cautious about heavy snow or winter storms and if you find yourself in a storm, leave the area as soon as possible.

11. Leave the place before dark

Finding your way off the ice in the dark can be difficult without a navigation device. It’s better to get back home before dark.

How Can a Gps Fish Finder Help You Stay Safe While Ice Fishing?

GPS waypoints to mark areas

A GPS fish finder helps you avoid weak icy areas by marking the waypoints in low light conditions. It also can be effective when snow covers the ice.

You need to mark the areas with water discharges, slush, large cracks, or any other signs of weak ice to avoid them for your safety.

Using GPS tracks on the ice

Turn on your GPS device before coming back home. You can track your route with the GPS function. The device is useful for fishing in the dark.

Mapping to identify areas where ice is growing

You can identify such areas using a premium mapping solution.

Ice Fishing Safety: How to Rescue Yourself?

About the author

Walter Ashley

I was brought up in Grove, Oklahoma alongside the Neosho river. It was not until my post-accident recovery period when I got hooked into fly fishing. The instructor had this unique teaching method and I started skipping my therapy sessions for kayak fishing out in the wild. It helped me be in places of nature that are extraordinarily beautiful and I would probably have never been there if fishing was not a part of my life. Experiences of those days taught me the shortcomings of fishing gear. So, I started investigating on a range of common equipment that people used and I started tweaking them for optimum results. It was not until my post-graduation on mechanical engineering when I seriously started thinking about fishing rod and reel designing. Extensive studies on materials that regular rods were made of eventually made way for new design ideas. Hopefully, my time on the waters and inner attachment to the nature will provide me sublimity for greater innovation.

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