12/20/10 As cold temperatures become established across Northern Indiana, many ice fishermen have dusted off their gear and are heading for the ice.  “This year we have an added element that will have to be taken into consideration when heading out onto the ice; and that is snow” says Indiana Conservation Officer John Salb.  “Snow acts as an insulator slowing down the formation of good ice and with snow depths ranging from 10+ inches in the lake effect counties of our district, to 2 or 3 inches in our southern district counties around Peru and Wabash, fishermen need to factor that in when heading out onto new ice” said Salb.   He also encourages parents to discuss with their young kids, the dangers about venturing out onto ice in neighborhood retention\detention ponds, small lakes, farm ponds, rivers and streams without adult supervision.  This is especially important during the upcoming extended holiday break.

Salb suggests that fishermen be smart about where they fish and have a plan should they fall through thin ice.  He suggests following these simple rules:

  • 4” of new clear ice is recommended for foot travel.  If you travel by snowmobile or ATV, 5” is the minimum.
  • Don’t consume alcoholic beverages.
  • Don’t fish alone!  Always take a buddy and let someone know where you are going.
  • Wear a life jacket under your winter gear.  It not only will keep you buoyant should you fall through, but will provide additional warmth.
  • Carry ice picks or ice awls.  These will allow you to pull yourself out of the water and onto the ice.  Should you go through, remain calm.  Turn in the direction you came from.  Extend your hands and arms forcing the ice picks solidly into the ice ahead of you.  Kick your feet and pull yourself out onto the ice.  Do Not Stand Up!  By rolling away from the hole, your weight is spread out until you reach solid ice.
  • Carry a signaling type whistle.  This may be the only way to let someone know you are in trouble.  A length of rope can also be useful to someone who is trying to help you.
  • Stay away from areas on lakes that have inlets or outlets.  Be mindful about flowing water if fishing on a channel between two lakes.  Ice fishing on Indiana’s reservoir impoundments can pose particular concerns; pay close attention to fluctuating water levels.

Remember, there is no such thing as safe ice, only safer ice!