7 Essential Ice Fishing Safety Gear

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Ice fishing is for adventurous anglers who love challenges. It involves creating openings through the ice to access the fish in the water below. 

Standing on top of an icy platform with a world of frozen water below can be dangerous. People have died, and others sustained severe injuries while fishing on the ice.

For one, it is easy to slide on the slippery surface and fall badly. On a more serious note, the ice could break, causing one to fall into the freezing-cold water.

Therefore, it is important to observe safety measures when going ice-fishing. Before anything else, ensure that you are dressed for the weather- put on layers and layers of clothes. Wear thermal underwear underneath to sustain the heat. 

How To Check Is The Ice Is Thick Enough

This article will highlight 7 essential ice fishing safety gear you should bring with you to ensure that you are prepared for any incident. But before that, it’s important to know how to check if the ice you are standing on is safe. 

You can check by inserting an auger or a spud bar through the ice. The rule of the thumb is that the thickness of the ice should be at least:

  • 4 inches if you are going fishing on foot.
  • 6 inches for ATVs.
  • 8 to 12 inches for light cars.
  • 14-16 inches for trucks. 

7 Essential Ice Fishing Safety Gear

Danger is always imminent when out ice-fishing. The best you can do is minimize your risk as much as possible and have ways to get out of it in case things go south. That is why anglers should bring safety gear when they go ice fishing. 

Seven of the most essential ice fishing safety gear are listed below.

  1. Ice Chisel– This is a chisel-shaped rod that is pointed on one of the sides. An ice chisel is used to determine whether the area ahead of you is thick enough to carry your or your car’s weight. This is achieved by punching a hole on the spot in front of you to determine whether the ice is too thin. If it is, you should backtrack and use an alternative route.
  2. Life Jacket– Since you are technically on top of water, you would need the same protection from drowning as you would if you were on a boat. Therefore, you should carry a coast-guard-approved life jacket. 
  3. Floating Rescue Rope and claws- A rescue rope should always be within reach when out ice fishing. In case you fall through the ice into the water, throwing the rope to a rescuer could help you get out. 
  4. Ice Creepers– They are also known as ice cleats. These are adjustable straps with spikes or metal teeth that are fitted onto boots to improve the traction of the boots against the slippery ice. Ice creepers provide a more stable footing when walking on ice, reducing injuries associated with slipping and falling. 
Crampons Ice Cleats Traction Snow Grips for Boots Shoes Women Men Kids Anti Slip 19 Stainless Steel Spikes Safe Protect for Hiking Fishing Walking Climbing Mountaineering (Black, Large)
  1. A working phone or radio– When the situation is dire, you would need to ask for backup. A phone is an efficient way to alert people that you need help, especially if you are in a remote area. A radio is a good reinforcement in case the phone you have runs out of charge or stops working. Phones and radios should be packed in water-proof packages to avoid damage.
  2. Contour map– You should know your destination pretty well before you venture out ice fishing. Just in case you are not very familiar with the area, bring a map to help you find your way if you got lost. Check with the concerned authorities to see if they provide contour maps of the place you are planning to visit.
  3. A first aid kit– Accidents are inevitable. And since accidents bring about injuries, it is prudent to bring a first aid kit whenever you go ice-fishing. The kit should contain essential first aid items like antiseptic, bandages, and painkillers. One should also include items that they may require depending on their health conditions.

There are other safety items that you could bring, but the above are the most essential. If you plan on spending a few days ice-fishing, you should consider getting an ice shanty to shelter yourself from the snow and wind.

Safety Tips For Ice Fishing

Besides having safety gear, there are other things that you should do to ensure your safety and comfortability while out ice-fishing. For one, see to it that you have enough food and water to last you the entire period you will be out in the ice.

Secondly, avoid alcohol as much as possible. Alcohol causes the impairment of judgment which is very risky in an ice setting. You need to be as sober as possible so that you are in the right state of mind to make the best decisions concerning your safety.

Additionally, it would be best if you informed people about your whereabouts. Before you leave for your expedition, it is advisable to share with a friend or family member your plan from when you set off to when you return. 

This way, they will know where to look in case you do not return according to plan. Even so, it is safer to bring company for an ice-fishing expedition.

Most importantly, stay woke. Pay maximum attention to your surroundings. You can avoid many accidents when you are aware of the things that are happening around you. 

For instance, the color of ice says a lot about whether it is safe or not to step on. Clear ice speaks safety. Gray ice, on the other hand, speaks hazard as it is most likely mixed with water.

Final Words

Ice fishing safety is a personal responsibility. It would help if you took the necessary precautions while ice fishing to make sure you make it back in one piece.

For starters, you should bring with you the seven essential ice fishing safety gear that we have highlighted in this article. These items ensure that you do not get injured or worse get into a fatal accident. Good luck on your ice fishing adventure!