How Much Ice On A Lake Is Needed To Safely Ice Fish?

You have to be a daredevil type to tread across a frozen lake at sunrise to catch fish. You can drop into dangerously cold water if the ice cracks. Extreme weather is what attracts instead of frightens those who ice fish. Still, there are precautions that the most diehard outdoor adventurers have to take to enjoy this pastime safely.

Knowing how thick the ice is on a lake is probably Job #1.

Does a frozen lake ever entirely offer the same ice support throughout?

Various factors affect how consistent the thickness of ice is. They include what temperature it is as well as the strength of the current running under the frozen surface, according to the Department of Natural Resources of the State of Minnesota . Leaping over ice that appears weak to reach a section that looks more solid is a terrible idea. It’s unusual for ice to be the same depth across a single body of water. It can be a few feet in one part and just an inch thick steps away, so it’s advised to check ice quality every 150 feet.

Get feedback from other ice fishers

Stopping at an area bait shop and asking what the ice conditions are is a smart idea before you even head out, especially if it’s located near a resort popular with ice fishing enthusiasts who frequent the same lake where you’re heading. You should have some idea of what safe parameters are first. Starting an outing by chatting with other ice fishers is good common sense.

What’s the ideal thickness of ice for fishing?

Fierce winters are par for the course in Saskatchewan where the Canadian government’s 2017 winter ice thickness guidelines were at least four inches thick for walking on and eight inches for snowmobiles. Many say that these parameters should only apply to new clear ice, which is pure water. White ice or snow ice is substantially weaker so should be at least eight inches thick for walking and 16 for snowmobiles.

Gauge how deep ice is by drilling through it

You can test a lake to see if it’s safe for fishing by first pounding the surface with a heavy spud bar or long chisel at least a few times to make sure it’s solid enough to stand on
Experts say that water appearing after one spud swing is only about two inches, which is a sign that you need to ease back to shore lightly because the lake is obviously unfit for safe fishing. If you swing the spud bar and reach water after a couple of firm hits, the ice is still under four inches, which rogue ice fishers may claim is good enough, but is not generally recommended. Remember that you never want to smash or drill a hole in the ice that’s such a wide diameter that you can accidentally drop a piece of your equipment into it.

Dress Smartly To Be Ready For The Worst

Wearing layers of clothes is recommended. Flotation suits with spikes built into the sleeves can be used to leverage yourself up by in the event that you fall through a soft patch of ice. Bear claws can also be used to grip the ice around you so you can pull yourself out of the water. Protecting your hands from frostbite is essential. The ultimate ice fishing gloves are well padded while not minimizing your ability to flex your fingers. Your footwear should be warm but not too heavy to make you walk clumsily. Ice cleats resemble the chains you put on car tires to better navigate snowy streets. They can enable you to strut with more certainty while preventing you from slipping and sliding.