Early-season ice fishing can be great, but the ice conditions are often sketchy. Here are some tips for staying safe:
Check in with a local sport shop or bait shop to get up-to-date information before you set out.
Check out ice conditions before you go. Ask other anglers or local sources and take into account changes in the weather during the past 24 hours.
If you have even the slightest doubt about the safety of the ice, stay off it.
It’s OK to wear a life jacket or carry a throwable floatation device.
Wear a warm hat that covers your ears. In cold weather, 75 to 80 percent of heat loss from the body occurs from an uncovered head.
Wear mittens. They are warmer than gloves and reduce the chance of frostbite.
Before you leave home, tell someone where you plan to fish and when you plan to return.
Carry a pair of long spikes on a heavy string around your neck. That way if you break through the ice you can use the spikes to grip the ice and pull yourself out of the water.
• Go with someone who knows the water and how ice tends to form and change. For those without an ice-fishing buddy, check out one of the ice-fishing blogs, or a website like www.iceshanty.com, with ice-fishing updates, chat and a map of where ice is found in the U.S. and Canada.
When on the ice, remember: