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Ice Fishing Safety Tips

Vermont Fisha and Game Department Ice Fishing Safety Tips


Editor's Note: The following comes to us from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and is a great reminder to be safe following last week's extremely close calls by ice anglers on Green Bay in Wisconsin. The anglers were rescued, but at press time, their vehicles remain stranded on the ice floe.


WATERBURY, VERMONT-- Ice fishing is popular and a lot of fun in Vermont. Each winter thousands of anglers venture out onto frozen lakes to fish through the ice. And, each winter there are ice-related accidents often caused by poor judgement or decisions based on inadequate information.

Here are some safety tips every person venturing out onto frozen lakes should observe according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

    • Leave information about your plans with someone -- where you intend to fish and when you expect to return.

    • Carry a cell phone with you to provide updated information on where you are, or to call for help.

    • Wear a personal flotation device, and don't fish alone.

    • Ice varies in thickness and condition. Always carry an ice spud or chisel to check ice as you proceed.

    • Be extremely cautious crossing ice near river mouths, points of land, bridges, islands, and over reefs and springs. Current almost always causes ice to be thinner over these areas.

    • Avoid going onto the ice if it has melted away from the shore. This indicates melting is underway, and ice can shift position as wind direction changes.

    • Waves from open water can quickly break up large areas of ice. If you can see open water in the lake and the wind picks up, get off!

    • Carry a set of hand spikes to help you work your way out onto the surface of the ice if you go through. Holding one in each hand, you can alternately punch them into the ice and pull yourself up and out. You can make these at home, using large nails, or you can purchase them at stores that sell fishing supplies.

    • Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone who has gone through the ice.

    • Leave your car or truck on shore. Every year several motor vehicles go through the ice on Vermont lakes, and people have drowned as a result.

    • Heated fishing shanties must have good ventilation to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Open a window or the door part way to allow in fresh air.

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