ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

DOUG LEIER: Think safety on ice - this winter more than ever

Walking out of church a couple of weeks ago, I overheard a conversation in which the participants were lamenting the December sun and warmer-than-average start to winter. The gist of the dialogue was something like "... it's not nice enough to go...

2213833+122015.C.GFH_.DOUGLEIER-Ice fishing.jpg
Many anglers who haven’t already ventured out to their favorite lake or a promising new destination are waiting anxiously for good ice to get their winter fishing season started. (N.D. Game and Fish Department photo)

Walking out of church a couple of weeks ago, I overheard a conversation in which the participants were lamenting the December sun and warmer-than-average start to winter. The gist of the dialogue was something like "... it's not nice enough to golf and not cold enough to ice fish."

Such are the struggles when a warm start to December follows a mild November.

By now, a few days of more seasonal weather have moved in, and I suspect golf no longer would fit into that conversation. But ice fishing is certainly a hot topic this year. I can't remember a year when I've heard so much positive chatter about ice fishing, and many anglers who haven't already ventured out to their favorite lake or a promising new destination are waiting eagerly for good ice to get their winter fishing season started.

And with good reason. North Dakota has a record number of lakes on the landscape right now, and a lot of them have good populations of walleyes, perch and/or northern pike.

Even though we're into mid-December, it's not too late to offer some ice safety reminders from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some tips to be aware of are:

• Snow insulates ice, hampering solid ice formation and making it difficult to check thickness. Snow also hides the blemishes, such as cracked, weak and open water areas.

• Avoid cracks, pressure ridges, slushy or darker areas that signal thinner ice. The same goes for ice that forms around partially submerged trees, brush, embankments or other structures.

• Ice thickness is not consistent and can vary significantly even in a small area. Ice shouldn't be judged by appearance alone. Anglers should drill test holes as they make their way out on the lake, and an ice chisel should be used to check ice thickness while moving around.

• Daily temperature changes cause ice to expand and contract, affecting its strength.

The following minimums are recommended for travel on clear-blue lake ice formed under ideal conditions. However, early in the winter it's a good idea to double these figures to be safe:

• 4 inches for a group walking single file.

• 6 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.

ADVERTISEMENT

• 8 to 12 inches for an automobile.

• 12 to 15 inches for a pickup or small truck.

These tips could help save a life:

• Wear a personal flotation device and carry a cellphone.

• Carry ice picks or a set of screwdrivers to pull yourself back on the ice if you fall through.

• If someone breaks through the ice, call 911 immediately. Rescue attempts should employ a long pole, board, rope, blanket or snowmobile suit. If that's not possible, throw the victim a life jacket, empty water jug or other buoyant object.

• To treat hypothermia, replace wet clothing with dry clothing and immediately transport victim to a hospital.

These tips aren't meant to scare anyone away from going on the ice, but it is a time of year when we all should assess ice conditions thoroughly before venturing out.
And if the ice isn't quite ready on your favorite lake, enjoy the nice weather and continue hunting for pheasant, grouse, partridge, turkey and archery deer through Jan. 3.

ADVERTISEMENT

For more information on ice fishing regulations and North Dakota fishing waters, the Game and Fish Department's website at gf.nd.gov has a wealth of up-to-date information to get you pointed in the right direction for a successful ice fishing outing.

What To Read Next
Featuring the prep honor roll, N.D. Class A and B prep basketball polls, N.D. East Region girls wrestling duals tournament schedule and much more!
The Tuesday, Jan. 31, game between Sioux Falls Lincoln and Watertown was forced to move after junior JT Rock broke the rim with a powerful two-handed dunk. Rock is committed to play at Iowa State.
Featuring prep basketball results from throughout the region, boys and girls hockey scores, area college basketball conference standings, and much more!
Featuring area prep hockey results, boys and girls basketball scores, local boys wrestling results, and much more!