Safety Tips For Ice Fishing Trips
National Weather Service Says Ice Formation Best For Fishing Seen In A Long Time.
The tents are coming up, the augers are coming out and ice fishing season is getting underway.
Having a complete gear checklist, however, doesn’t mean fishermen are set.
Todd Heitkamp, Owner of Dakota Angler in Sioux Falls, said ice is “unpredictable” by nature and anyone planning on going on top of the surface should heed caution.
“There’s safety recommendation as far as walking out on the ice. We want to, at least, have four inches of ice out there. Driving a vehicle out there, we need at least 12 to 14, if not 15 inches of ice,” said Heitkamp.
He also said the bitter cold is doing ice fishermen a favor.
“That’s really aided the ice formations across the lakes and made it probably one of the safer winters we’ve had around here for ice fishing in a long time,” said Heitkamp.
While the ice is considered to be in good condition, that doesn’t mean it’s consistent throughout the state.
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Conservation Officer Jared Hill said condition vary from lake to lake.
“If there are points or different currents and stuff like that, there can be varying ice conditions where it may be 18 inches somewhere and only be ten or less somewhere else,” said Hill.
If the plan is to walk across the ice, Hill recommends keeping ice picks nearby.
He also suggests having a floatation device on your gear.
If the car is coming along, Hill said leave the windows down and doors unlocked to get out.
“Every year, we have vehicles go through and, typically, they get out fine. We have had some bad cases where they haven’t so being ready to get out in case that odd chance that everyone else happens to be driving around and yours happens to go through, seems like it does happen every year,” said Hill.
The National Weather Service says to remain cautious around snow covered ice.
They say it works as an insulator that can keep the ice thinner than surrounding areas.