Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ice Fishing Safety Tips

Safety tips from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission:
  • Wear a personal flotation device, or at least carry a floatation cushion to sit on and don’t fish alone.
  • Leave information about your plans with someone, where you intend to fish and when you plan to return.
  • Know the conditions of the ice before venturing out; taking into consideration recent possible effects changes in the weather have had on the ice.
  • Children should always be supervised on the ice.
  • Use an ice spud bar or an auger to test the ice ahead of you.
  • Before venturing out onto the ice, check with local sources, such as bait and tackle shops, for the most up-to-date information and always consider any information on ice thickness as suggestion, not fact.
  • Avoid ice formed over flowing water near shore and around inlets and outlet
  • Avoid aeration devices such as warm water bubblers used near marinas.
  • Temperature fluctuations typically occurring in early winter and spring will again make for uncertain ice. Be suspicious of gray, dark or porous spots in the ice as these may be soft areas. Ice is generally strongest where it is hard and blue.
  • Heavy snow cover insulates ice and prevents it from freezing as evenly and as quickly as it would if the snow weren’t there. Snow cover is also deceptive and makes evaluating the ice cover difficult.
  • Be especially wary of tributary ice, as it can be highly variable in thickness due to the erosive action of the underlying water current. Many anglers like to ice fish the Walnut Project waters, which has some deep holes. One can be standing on ice eight inches thick on a trib and just a few feet away, the ice may be only two inches thick.
  • Carry a set of “grippers” (a couple screwdrivers on a length of nylon cord will do in a pinch). If you should go through the ice, they can provide a “grip” on the slippery surface and aid in getting out.
  • Should you break through the ice, try not to panic. Remember to turn toward the direction you came from, toward the ice that supported you. Use you “grippers” or your hands to gain a hold on the unbroken surface of the ice, and advance by kicking your feet.
  • Once you are out of the water and are lying on the ice, don’t stand. Roll away from the point where you broke through until you are on solid ice.
  • If you do see someone fall through the ice, do not run toward them. Carefully extend a rope, ladder, pole or line to the victim.