Stay safe and prevent an unexpected polar plunge by owning the right gear and frequently checking ice conditions!
Cooler nights and accumulating snow have dropped temperatures near freezing, and we’ll soon be walking on water again. Take a few steps now to know you’re prepared when ice arrives.
First, pull out all your ice fishing gear and make sure it is ready to go. Rods, reels and tackle are important, but even more important is having the proper safety gear. There are a few items I consider necessities for venturing out on early ice.
For starters, an ice chisel to check ice conditions as I venture out. Having a sharp ice chisel and checking ice thickness as you progress onto the ice is your best line of defense for keeping you safe when moving.
Make sure to have a measuring device to accurately read the thickness as you go. I prefer an ice scoop bent at a 90 degree angle with 1-inch increments marked on the handle. Having a quality chisel and knowing how to use it can keep you out of nearly all disastrous situations. Click HERE to check out a video describing how I venture onto early ice.
Additional gear for early ice would be a good set of ice cleats on your boots to assist in walking and keeping you upright. I also choose to wear a floating ice suit that will keep me afloat if I would ever happen to break through. Having a set of ice picks around your neck or in a pocket can be extra insurance to help you get out of the water. It’s also a good idea to keep your cell phone in a waterproof pocket, holder, or in a sealed bag.
That pretty much has you covered but you can also bring a rope and a floating boat cushion to help someone else who wanders onto unsafe ice.
It is also good practice to always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
Ice will arrive like it does every winter, but make sure to check conditions as you go.
Good luck fishing and stay safe!