The Great Falls chapter of Walleyes Unlimited hosted a seminar to discuss ice-fishing safety.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and parks offers the following safety information:
Ice fishing is fun, but safety always comes first. Ice conditions can change quickly over time and vary dramatically across short distances.
Here are some tips:
- Check the weather
- Tell someone where you're going.
- Bring a friend - for company and safety.
- Look for signs that others have been out on the ice first. Never be first on the ice!
- Check ice thickness and clarity - there should be at least 4-6 inches of clear ice
- If there's snow on the ice, use caution. It can hide the ice condition.
- Don't approach open water.
- Stay clear of pressure ridges and/or large cracks.
- Be extra cautious around areas that can make ice weaker such as docks and other structures. inlets and outlets, and springs.
- Spread out if you have a big group.
You can't determine how thick the ice is by looking. Drill a test hole and measure it to make sure it's safe.
Recommended minimum ice thickness guidelines for good, clear ice:
- Under 4 inches: STAY OFF
- 4 inches: Ice fishing or other activities on foot
- 7 inches: Snowmobile or ATV
- 10 inches: Small car (not recommended, but if you must, proceed at your own risk)
- 12 inches: Larger vehicle (not recommended, but if you must, proceed at your own risk)