Tom Neustrom Ice FishingThis week’s blog post on Early Ice fishing Safety Tips is by Tom Neustrom, professional fishing promoter and professional fishing guide owner of MN Fishing Connections.

As the ice is forming this early season you need to pay particular attention as you venture out on how to walk on ice. You really shouldn’t be out there on less than 4 inches. Whenever you walk on the ice take a spud and poke it twice on the ice, if you go through on two thrusts then the ice usually isn’t safe. Always remember that no ice is ever safe.

It can shift, there can be cracks that are created that can turn into fishers (separation of ice) and you need to stay away from those areas. Utilizing your summer electronics and GPS multimedia cards that are transferable to your winter unit can be all important in finding those early spots. Many times we scout in the fall to where we want to fish in first ice and this application is critical for success. A critical part of walking on early ice is to make sure that you have spikes. Most often they are tied around the back of your neck and down through your sleeves. If you fall through the ice the spikes are readily available  for you to pull yourself out. The reason you put them down your sleeve is so they are out of the way and do not get tangled in your suit.

Always tell somebody where you are going, no matter what the thickness of the ice. It is a great safety feature in case something goes wrong. This way MN DNR Thin Ice Banner
the appropriate people will know where you are. Another idea is to place a sign in your windshield that states the general area that you are going to be fishing and the time you left. Bring your cell phone with you, but always make sure it is charged up. When you are out in the cold conditions it seems like batteries drain quicker in the cold. Ask any professional photographer, how many batteries they need to bring on a winter outdoor photo shoot.

On larger lakes there is a tendency for ridges to be formed. Make sure you give them plenty of room, and do not attempt to cross them. Especially in areas where it is raised up a foot to 3 ft or more. Under no circumstances should you drive over ridges, unless they are flagged appropriately for traffic. Another safety idea is to bring 4 foot stakes that are usually painted top 12-13 inches and place them strategically in the path that you are going out on the ice and coming back. This is used in case of a white out snow condition. If you  are out in the middle of a large lake and either your vehicle gets stranded your vehicle, stay with your vehicle.  Not venture out and walk to safety. Make sure you bring extra clothing, blankets and a winter survival pack any time you venture out ice fishing. These tips will certainly help you in early ice and all through ice fishing season.

Before you venture out for ice fishing, make sure to check out the MN Department of Natural Resources Ice Safety resource web page.