As Put-in-Bay Ice Fishing Season is just around the corner, let’s review some safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe while enjoying this fun-filled sport. Always be sure to alert friends where and when you are going to be ice fishing. Neck hung ice picks should be worn at all times. Screwdrivers packed in a backpack would be inaccessible and useless in the event of falling through while ice fishing.
Always have the proper equipment such as a compass, GPS, cell phone, portable ship-to-shore radio, flashlight, whistle, creepers or crampons for boots (snow tires for your feet) and a self-inflating life vest. Wear warm protective clothing while ice fishing and dress in layers that can easily be removed while in your shanty. The waters and areas you would avoid with your boat you will want to avoid walking the ice. Reefs and strong current areas (like marina exits) can hollow out the ice making it unsafe. Follow marked paths where available.
In the event of falling through, most people have 3-6 minutes to get out of the water before their body shuts down. Distribute your weight evenly over as broad a surface area as possible. Crawl and or roll to safe ice. Radio for help (faster than a cell phone). Get to someplace warm.
Lastly, when you are done ice fishing, please mark your old shanty holes again this winter when you move or quit for the season. It may save someone from a serious injury or dunking into the lake. All it takes is a tree limb, with branches wide enough to not fall through and tall enough to be seen over the top of any snow drifts, stood up to mark the holes. Then the area can be avoided until either cold weather heals the open holes or the season ends without incident.