What's safe for me may not be safe for you. With each ice season comes new ice anglers. So often I see people walking out on new ice with no safety gear, no spud bar, no ice picks, no PFD, no throw rope, no partner. Often times these people will walk directly up to me and ask me how the ice is or how the fishing is. They see me on the ice and assume that because I'm out there the ice is safe. The problem with that is without watching someone walk out on the ice you have no idea how that person got there. I may be fishing the West side of a lake but walked in from the East as the West shore line is soft. With years of experience fishing on different types of ice one learns what things to look for and what things to avoid.
Example clear ice is generally going to be safer than ice filled with air bubbles. Cloudy ice can be fishable if thick enough but how do you know if its thick enough? Spud bars can be a great way to determine the quality and thickness of the ice. Make sure you learn how to appropriately use the spud bar. Depending on your strength you may have to hit the same spot a few times. Once you start to learn to read the ice you will be much safer and confident in you ability to fish early ice.
I write this as a general reminder to folks. I've been on the ice 15 times so far this season. I can't tell you how many times I've seen groups of people, especially with young children stroll out and start fishing without any safety gear at all. I often feel that because they see me or someone else on the ice they think that it's safe. I have been on plenty of ice this season that I would not recommend anyone else fish due to the general condition of that ice. That comes back to what's safe for me may not be safe for you.
Two final comments, boot spikes or cleats may not be a safety item but definitely something to think about. Second take a few minutes and look at YouTube for some good videos on what to do once you fall through. Here is one that I watch at the beginning of each hard water season http://youtu.be/QKpAzvXSldA
Take care and tight lines to all!
Here is a list of the safety gear that I use. I'm sure there are some better products maybe cheaper products but this is what works for me.
Spud bar: Eskimo CH12 64-inch Multi-Faceted, Triple-Action Chipper Head Design Ice Chisel
Rapala Ice Safety Spikes, Black
attwood Rescue Line Throw Bag,
ABSOLUTE OUTDOOR Onyx A/M-24 Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket
IceFishingFool, CO 1/4/2019 8:02:30 PM
Always a good Reminder Cisco. Thumbs up
adrenaline_junkie_ff, CO 1/4/2019 8:20:14 PM
Great reminders. Thanks!
bron, CO 1/4/2019 9:04:06 PM
Great blog, maybe saves a life.
fishthumpre, CO 1/5/2019 9:38:55 AM
Very well thought out. We were out this week at Boyd Lake, where the inlet's been pretty safe for some time but the main lake only capped over after all the frigid air last week. Spotted at least one group with a kid headed right out to middle of the lake, where geese had been swimming arouond a few days earlier. As an old Ozark boy, I'm still nervous when I know the ice is a foot thick, particularly when it starts making those cracking noises. I have a fondness for fishing alone, but usually stick with my buddies this time of year.
lackskill, CO 1/5/2019 4:11:20 PM
Good points and good reminders.
anglerwannabe, CO 1/5/2019 6:12:29 PM
nice work Cisco
Kev-o, CO 1/5/2019 8:55:13 PM
Good information goose and nice blog. Bring your safety gear and if something doesn’t feel right or if you’re new to ice fishing definitely go with somebody that has experience reading the ice.
Be safe out there!
ass bass or cash, CO 1/6/2019 12:42:47 PM
Great read Goose. Being new to ice fishing, I appreciate your information and will take your recommendations. Thank you!
ChatfieldSP, CO 1/6/2019 1:05:39 PM
Great info, it's good to know there is such a helpful community that cares about the safety of others.
ass bass or cash, CO 1/6/2019 1:26:10 PM
BTW, the guy in the video is a beast! 3 times jumping through the hole into a frozen lake within 5 minutes?! That not only wrecks your day, it might wreck your week. Absolutely Exhausting and takes quite the toll on you mentally. I'm always amazed at the personal sacrifices made by first responders and volunteers like this guy for the benefit of others.
Matt, CO 1/9/2019 8:07:59 AM
Great blog Cisco! I wear that same PFD, and once it’s on I forget about it a minute later. Spikes/cleats definitely should be considered a safety item - I’ve cracked my knee pretty good after slipping on the ice, and that’s when I was pretty agile and athletic. Definitely throw them in the sled in case things get slick. It’s not all about falling through, sometimes just falling on is bad enough. The folks I see that are in the most danger are the “walkers” that decide since I’m out fishing they can roam around in the ice too, with no clue about ice safety. They’re not fishermen - they definitely won’t be on here to read this, which is too bad. I usually grab my PFD and wiggle it at them as a gesture to say it is not that safe out here. I saw two girls hanging out on the ice in the corner of a local pond the other day, in a spot I would be scared of checking myself, near some cattails. They were there the entire walk around the pond, at least15 min. I would’ve gone over to say something but they were over about a foot of water so figured if they went through they’d just end up with unpleasantly wet, cold and muddy legs.