Balmy breezes and sunshine inspire many to hook bait on their rods and try to reel in a nice sized trout or perch. A gray sky, snow and brutal cold can have the same effect on you if you’re an ice fisher. It’s strange. You’re a special breed who loves braving the elements and the suspense of treading frozen lakes. Ice fishing takes patience, so sitting down makes sense, but is dragging a chair out on the ice and taking a seat on it a safe tactic?
Defining safety within the sport of ice fishing
A recent report in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine shows that ice fishing results in more serious injuries than fishing done in bodies of water that aren’t frozen, which shouldn’t be too much of a shock to anyone. Prolonged exposure to cold and treading across vast sheets of ice can lead towards a wider variety of injuries. So what’s the bar for safety in a sport where ice burn and hypothermia are such common risks?
You want to catch fish, not flirt with danger
The suspense of crossing an icy lake without knowing if it’s firm enough to support your fishing outing can be exciting and give you a rush. Having it crack under your feet and suddenly finding yourself immersed in the brutally cold water under it, just isn’t, however. While being in the great outdoors in Siberian weather is part of what keeps ice angling interesting, a good ice fisher stays focused on safely catching fish.
Does being seated make ice fishing that much more risky?
Assuming that you’ve done everything required to be sure that the ice width in the area where you’re fishing can sustain the weight, a chair shouldn’t change anything. As long as you’ve measured how thick the ice you’re on is with a long chisel or drill bit of the appropriate length, you’re abiding by the general rules of ice safety. 4 inches can manage a person walking on it. 5 inches can withstand the pressure of a snowmobile. A car or truck is considered safe on top of ice that’s between 8 and 12 inches. It’s important to know the weight of your chair and body mass when they’re combined to be sure the ice depth you’re on can sustain it.
Is there any advantage to ice fishing seated as opposed to standing?
You have two strategies to work with when you’re out on the ice ready to fish. One is to stay put next to the first surface you’ve drilled a hole through until something bites. The other is to move around until you find an area on the lake where there are definitely fish. No two ice anglers agree on which strategy works best. You’ll probably switch between the two depending on your mood, location and weather conditions. Even if you’re usually too active on the ice to get a moment to sit down, it’s always best to have a chair in the event that you need one.
What type of ice chairs are recommended?
Crates topped with pillows and lawn chairs are just two of the types of improvised seating used by veteran ice fishers who don’t put much stock in fancy equipment. A chair designed specifically for ice fishing can be folded and transported more easily, however. There are lots of styles and models to choose from, so buying one can be a smart decision, especially if it’s multi-purpose. Here’s one example of just using what works:
Some double as storage units you can haul supplies in. Others can fold into backpacks. The best ice chair material will be waterproof. You want something sturdy that can survive having other outdoor equipment thrown on top of it in the back of an SUV. You also want to be sure that it’s made for someone of your weight. Ice fishing may be a challenge, but ultimately it’s a leisure experience. Being able to sit down next to a fishing hole is just one more option. Fish take time to lure, so making comfort a priority can give you the staying power to get what you came for.