5 Critical Tips for Safe Ice Fishing in Colorado | RMHP Blog



5 Critical Tips for Safe Ice Fishing in Colorado

Ice Fishing Safety Tips For Anglers


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.


1. Check the ice conditions

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:

  • Ice less than two inches thick is not safe to walk on, so don’t even try ice fishing.
  • If the ice is four inches thick, you can safely walk on it.
  • However, if you plan on using an ATV or snowmobile, the ice must be six inches thick.
  • A small pickup truck or car requires eight to12 inches of solid ice.
  • For larger vehicles, 12 to 15 inches of ice is necessary.


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.


2. Snow can be deceiving

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.


3. Consider using traction devices

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.


4. Always explore the ice with caution

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.


5. Have a plan in case you fall through the ice

No angler plans to fall through the ice, but it happens. Prepare yourself in case the worst occurs:

  • Tie a long cord or rope to a sled when you go out to ice fish. The rope will make it easier to pull gear, and if someone in your group falls through the ice you can push the sled toward that person while holding onto the line.
  • Carry two picks and tie them together with nylon cord. You can use them to pull your way back to safety if you fall through.
  • Always bring a portable flotation cushion. Throw it to anyone who falls through the ice and use it for a comfy seat.
  • Know how to perform a self-rescue and how to rescue someone else. These two rescue guides include safety kit supply lists.


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.