Press Release


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Ice Fishing Safety

By Mike Demick Clearwater Region Conservation Educator With the recent cold weather, many ice anglers are venturing onto the frozen surfaces of Idaho's lakes and reservoirs in search of hungry fish. Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials are asking ice anglers to remember that their cold weather sport demands a few safety precautions. Lake ice can be dangerous and people can be injured or killed if ice is not respected. "Besides always checking the ice before going out on it and using common sense, anglers need to be aware that ice thickness and strength can vary from location to location," Clearwater Region Fisheries Biologist Ed Schriever said. Anglers can fish through the ice with up to five lines, but the holes must be no more than 10 inches in diameter. Fish and Game provides these safety cautions:
  • Four inches of clear, solid ice is usually safe for ice fishing. Snowmobiles or ATV enthusiasts need six inches of ice.
  • Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong. Snow can also insulate ice to keep it from freezing. When ice is covered by snow, great precautions need to be taken to determine ice thickness before starting any activity. Snow can also hide cracked, weak and open water areas.
  • Slush is a danger sign. Slush indicates that ice is no longer freezing from the bottom. Slush also indicates weak or deteriorated ice.
  • Never check ice or rescue a victim of ice failure alone because you could go from rescuer to victim quickly.
  • Anglers should use a floatation device and ice picks whenever on ice. Ice picks, two short lengths of broom handle or dowel with sharpened nails in one end and joined with a rope, can easily be carried in a pocket or through the sleeves like a mitten string. Use the picks to pull yourself back up on the ice in the event you do go through.