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Icefishing 101 - Ok, I've heard you aren't supposed to go out on the ice unless its about 4-6 inches thick - but my question is,

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  • Icefishing 101 - Ok, I've heard you aren't supposed to go out on the ice unless its about 4-6 inches thick - but my question is,

    Icefishing 101 - Ok, I've heard you aren't supposed to go out on the ice unless its about 4-6 inches thick - but my question is, without going out there and drilling a hole through it, how do you know how thick it is?

  • #2
    depends on the body of water you want to fish. most fish and game sites have reports that they update on a regular basis. maybe ask a local bait shop?

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    • #3
      some people will use steel pipes as a walking stick and test the ice in front of them as they go

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      • #4
        I'm afraid theres no solid answer. Just experience and knowing when it's safe. As a general rule if it's so thick that it's white it's safe. If you can see critters underneath, skip it

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        • #5
          Usually you can see through it because the ice is clear. If not, it is usually the same thickness near shore... auger a hole in it and verify the thickness before it gets over ankle deep.

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          • #6
            Get a spud and poke every few feet as you go out to verify it is thick enough. "Thick enough" is going to vary based on ice condition. If it takes multiple strikes with a good sharp spud to poke through it is going to be OK for walking. Good clear ice may look thinner than white ice but is actually the strongest inch for inch. Be extremely caution in any areas with current. If you don't have a spud you might want to consider sending your mother-in-law first... If in doubt, don't go out any further! Trust me, it is not worth it.

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            • #7
              If there are other guys out on the ice and haven't fallen through, carefully venture out, preferably in their tracks and ask how thick or drill a hole. I just ask other fishermen how thick it was when they were last out.

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              • #8
                Ok, first off.Ice is not the same thickness at the shore line as it is off shore due to vegitation and current flow and it is shallower to start with.Test for strength at shoreline though as it is usually the weakest of ice to form. There is no such thing as safe ice .That said. You can walk on ice on ponds and lakes without current @ 4" thickness in single file only. Not a good practice but you can do it. Ice covered in snow and white ice is always thinner then clear ice. Windy days break ice up and it takes longer for ice to form. You need steady sub freezing temps over a period of weeks for any good ice to form. When testing ice use a spud bar and try and punch through a few feet in front of you by dropping it ,but still holding onto it. Slow going is the rule. gray ice is unsafe,white ice is weak stay off,slushy ice not safe. Clear or Blue ice is safe over 4" only. Always use the buddy system and always wear a life jacket or vest. You might look stupid,but it could save your life. Stay off water with current and away from spring areas. Smaller waters will freeze faster than larger waters. Ponds. small lakes and then larger lakes in that order in the same areas. Rivers and streams are the last to freeze and are not recommened to be on. Went fishing today we caught 10 nice rainbows 13" to 20" through 10.5" of cyrstal clear ice. be safe,don't be sorry

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                • #9
                  First be paying attention to weather as the seasons change from fall to winter. Were there significant upswings in weather? Is it staying cold enough to develop good ice? etc

                  Start from shore and carry an axe hit the ice every 6" to a foot as you move farther off the shore.

                  In my circles we make it a point to never venture on first ice without someone on the shore ready to save you. We always keep rope on both people.

                  Out of all the fishing I do, ice fishing gets the most caution.

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                  • #10
                    Best advice is see if other people are fishing and go no further out than they are. NEVER venture out on a frozen lake alone.

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                    • #11
                      You don't. If you are unsure about the ice, it's a good idea to wear a life vest. I have a vest size 3X so I can wear it over all my other clothes and remove it with ease once I'm sure the ice is OK. Still, it's really not that simple. If one was to fall through the ice with a life vest on, the next question is: can I climb out of the water, back onto the ice? Add ice picks, a buddy and a rope and the answer is most likely "yes". Ice picks are worn under your coat and dangle at your hands and are used to dig into the ice and help you pull yourself up onto the ice. Still, if one falls through the ice, is he going to be able to keep his cool and get himself out before becoming hypothermic? Who knows? We all respond to emergencies differently. I would suggest that if you are unsure about the ice to not only have a vest and ice picks, but also a rope and a fishing buddy. Tie the rope tightly around your chest, under your arms, before going onto the ice. Of course, your buddy is on the other end, hanging back at a safe distance. <|)

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                      • #12
                        I really don't think that testing the ice in front of you with a spud or axe or anything else for that matter, is a good idea. If you are on questionable ice, this "test" could be all that's needed to overcome the ice's ability to support you. Though I agree with Jehnifer and Moishe to a certain extent, there are too many variables to be considered. Bottom line: there is no certain answer to this question. Until you are sure the ice is safe, every precaution should be taken.

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                        • #13
                          Don't depend on reports from anyone. Huh? White ice is safe? Sorry but you couldn't be more incorrect. Clear ice, often referred to as "black ice", is the strongest. The ice near shore is normally shallower, regardless of water depth, because of the heat from the ground.

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