Some of us call it winter. Avid anglers, however, are more likely to fondly refer to this time of year as ice fishing season.
Ice fishing is a fun wintertime activity, but there are safety considerations you absolutely must consider before heading out. With that in mind, let’s review the ice fishing safety best practices to keep you safe and reeling in fish all season long.
Assessing ice conditions is the most important part of staying safe while ice fishing in Colorado. Drill a few test holes to check the ice thickness before every ice fishing session. Once you have your holes (which should be at no more than 30 foot intervals), use the following guidelines to determine whether the ice is thick enough:
Also remember that ice thickness isn’t consistent across an entire body of water. Some areas will be thicker, others will be thinner.
You can also check conditions throughout the state on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website.
Snow insulates ice and can prevent it from freezing completely. If you see snow, also look for cracks, pressure ridges, and slushy or darker areas – all signs of thin ice.
Not surprisingly, frozen bodies of water are slippery. They become even slicker when snow is swept across the surface by strong winds. Make sure you have footwear that will keep you from slipping and falling — crampons, cleats, Yaktrax®, or other types of traction devices are a must.
Even if the ice is thick enough for fishing and you’re wearing crampons, it’s still very important to tread carefully.
Watch where you’re going, keep an eye on conditions, and be aware of trees, grass, and other brush sticking out of the ice. The ice will be weaker in spots with live plants because the plants absorb sunlight.
No angler plans to fall through the ice, but it happens. Prepare yourself in case the worst occurs:
Once you’re prepared for a safe day, it’s time to hit the ice! Ice fishing is a uniquely fun way to enjoy winter.