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Ice Safety

Go with those in the know!!!! Don’t go alone!!!

I. Gear



I. Gear

The goal is to never use some of the things that we will discuss, but the fact is that you never know what could

happen out there and you need to be prepared for anything whether the ice is 4 inches or 1 foot thick!

Things to bring:


Rope – At least 50 feet, brightly colored could help

Life vest – wouldn’t hurt to attach it to your rope

(Floating Water-ski ropes are good)



Studs for you feet

Hand warmers – Inexpensive but could prove the difference in

Saving hands and feet

Inflatable PFD – Lots of guys wear these – good added safety

Some guys like to keep their boots untied or tied loosely in case

Of an event where kicking them off quickly could benefit


Extra clothes and a blanket.-These can be left in the car but

Should be brought every time!!!


Spud Bar – Most important tool for determining safety of ice. Tie

rope around with a loop knot so you don’t drop it!


(Lots to learn) Only time on the ice will teach you what you feel confident in. It’s your life and unless you are

confident in your safety then you will not have an enjoyable experience. The reason you are there is to have fun and

enjoy the outdoors. If you question the safety of an area or a whole lake then move or leave.


How thick is safe?

Many people will ask how thick does the ice have to be for it to be

safe. 6 inches is a good starting point. Some people will fish on

2 ½ or 3 inches, others will not step foot on the ice unless it is 6 or

more, again it goes back to confidence. An example would be this:

I will fish on 2 ½ -3 inches but would never bring a first timer out on

anything less than 4-5 inches, ideally 6.


Quality and Color

When talking in terms of thickness the quality of ice becomes an

issue. Black ice is best; hands down it’s what you want. Black

ice is the strongest ice, the highest quality. For me personally

if there is 4 inches of black ice I will be really confident in my

safety. When there is precipitation or melting and refreezing of

ice you may run into white or gray ice. This type of ice is of lower

quality than black ice and you must carefully consider fishing on

it. A combination of these two colors is what you are most likely

to run into when you are fishing. At least 3 inches of black plus whatever gray should be safe. This is where your

spud bar is of most

importance. Another side note: You are most likely to find black

ice during first ice and gray ice at ice-out. Ice out is a time when

ice begins to melt, rot, and turn gray and is a time when extra caution

must be exercised.



The consistency of the ice is also a factor when determining ice

safety. If you are checking the ice and find it is consistently six

inches thick you have a good reason to be confident that the ice

has frozen uniformly. This kind of situation provides the safest

ice. If you are checking the ice and find six inches in one area and

three in another and four in another, the ice has not formed

uniformly and extra caution must be exercised. Edges of ice can be much thinner than the ice three to six feet off

shore due to its proximity to land. In this case a plank or board can be a valuable tool. Use caution! Another factor

when talking on terms of consistency is depth and moving water. Shallow water is more likely to change

temperature and create unstable ice. Similarly moving water and current can create areas of ice that are much thinner

than others. Types of moving water include inlets& outlets, channels, and springs. Know the body of water you are

fishing and heed the location of such features, use

caution around them. The bittersweet thing about such features is

Fish are drawn to them so be smart when balancing good fishing

With your safety!!!


Determining Ice Safety

Your spud bar is your most important tool when determining ice safety.

It can tell you if the ice is soft or hard. How many chops does it take to

Break through? Generally if I can whack my spud on the ice three to four times before breaking through I will step

on. Then once you are on continue to carefully spud your way out. Then drill a hole. How thick is

it? Acceptable? Keep spudding and drilling until you’ve determined that the Entire area that you plan to walk on and

fish is safe. If you feel really

Unsure tie a rope around you and then have your partner hold the rope

While you check.



Ice makes noise. Ever hear ice popping in your freezer? Lakes are just

That, a big ice cube. There are different kinds of noise. Popping and

Expansion cracks when the temperature is around freezing or below means

The ice is growing. Conversely, If it is very warm at ice out and you

Hear cracking it could be a bad thing. Getting used to watching the ice

Crack under your feet takes a lot of getting used to but don’t freak its ok.


Getting Out

In the event that you fall in there are steps you can take to get yourself out. Hopefully you are wearing your ice

picks. If you go in and this is easy to say but hard to do, try not to panic. The human body can last for 8 minutes in

freezing water. First focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths. Next look at your surroundings. Where did you go

in? The point where you fell in was strong enough to get you out there so it’s your best chance of getting out. Kick

your legs, use you picks and try to pull/roll yourself out. When you get out don’t stand up roll until you are far from

where you went in. Get to your car and change your clothes.

This information comes from a video found here. Watch it. It could save your life.


Click on this is a must see.