With the ice fishing season upon us and annual Burbot Bash and Buckboard Classic Burbot Tournament on Flaming Gorge coming up soon, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office is issuing a safety advisory and some tips for safe ice fishing.
Ice Fishing Safety Tips
· First and foremost, bear in mind the tried-and-true adage that there is no such thing as safe ice. Ice conditions can fluctuate drastically over short times and distances; water levels in lakes, and especially in reservoirs like Flaming Gorge, can change - freezing and thawing weather patterns come and go, and submerged springs in certain areas can make a big difference. Always exercise caution and never become complacent.
· Check ice thickness before venturing out and check thickness every 100 to 150 feet. (A cordless drill with a 5/8-inch, 5-inch long wood augur bit makes this an easy proposition.) Clear ice 4 inches thick or more is generally considered safe for an angler on foot, and though guidelines exist for appropriate ice thickness for snow machines, four-wheelers, and larger vehicles, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office does not recommend taking motorized vehicles of any kind out onto the ice, regardless of thickness.
· Never ice fish alone.
· Wearing a PDF, (Personal Flotation Device) is highly recommended. A little more bulk won’t matter much, and a PDF might save your life if the ice gives way.
· Remember that fishing from shore ice when the lake is not frozen over from bank to bank can be particularly hazardous.
Ice Fishing Safety Video Available Online
Sheriff Mike Lowell recommends a 10-minute ice fishing safety video produced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources called “Danger, Thin Ice!” which can be found on YouTube and elsewhere.
Among the many safety issues and tips highlighted in the video is the use of either the homemade or commercially-manufactured ice picks, which are easy to carry on the ice and can make all the difference in getting yourself out of trouble.
“Ice fishing is a great sport and we want everyone to have a good time,” Lowell said, “but we also want everyone to stay safe.”