Ice Fishing Tips -Check your local regulations! > Ice Fishing Safety

Top 5 items to have before going out on the ice - a discussion

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After reviewing all my gear and thinking about when I got what I came to the conclusion that the safety stuff was actually acquired last.  I'll just file it under "**censored** was I thinking?"

Top 5 items for safety on the ice:

Ice picks:
I know a guy that makes them by the dozen using clothes lines, broom handles and finish nails.  He hands them out freely to all on the pond and has a vintage set he made as a boy (he's under 60) and has used them many times - loves to skate, hates to drown.

I got a couple pairs from the bargain bin at the end of a season

Budget = $10 or under/set.

Use: Individual - every person on the ice should have a pair.  Bonus if they are fed through your coat like mittens used to be (hand warming gear, not the cat...)

Spud Bar:
Homemade ice chisel to test thickness - simple, fancy, cheap, antique, vintage - poking holes in ice is the task.  Reading the ice is a little different but most topics on the use of a spud do little to tell you how.

Budget = $20 min for a home-built

Use: Per party - lead man uses it to ID the paths

Throw Rope:
I'm seeing a lot of DIY threads now that I look but there are a lot of sources for ready to use units available at various sources.  I'm sure any marine store will have them and the DIY kits have a lot of tips to make one easily.

Budget = $20 min for enough to make a very trust-worthy throw bag.

Use: Per party - although having one per pair or trio of party members.  Everyone should know where this item is and it should be prominent and easy to get to.  If you have a sled, there should be an obvious spot for it.

The last items:
Ears and a nose - Those are for freezing off but it's really what's between them that is most important - use your brain.  Think, don't sink.

Budget: Free (usually)

Use: Frequently - if the ice sounds funny, it's probably not a joke.

Having said all that:
Mods - sticky as you wish and/or add links to support this thread.  I'm sad to see only one sticky thread in safety forum.

All - please discuss and add great information as you all do


Knowledge; weather in particular. I keep the NOAA 7day forecast bookmarked for areas I tend to fish and watch it carefully before going out. Gives you a real insight for how the edges and main cake might be holding up, refreezing etc. Also handy if you have a choice of days to fish. Personally I don't enjoy frostbite, (only happened once ice fishing) so I tend to avoid days with high winds and really frigid temps. Naturally if you have a shack it is less of an issue.

MT Tag Filler:
Before I head out on the ice I check my arsenal. I have narrowed down my 5 items.
1) cold beer
2) ice tent
3) propane heater
4) rod/tackle/bait
5) chair
The number 6 recently acquired for the arsenal is my new hook 3x I have yet to be able to try! Damn college will back you up till your brain wants to explode. As long as I have the top 5 loaded up in the sled then I am ready for a day away on the water not thinkin about workin or school.
Tight lines, flags up, and be safe out there!

usually more than 5, but here we go:

1) tip-ups / jigging poles
2) lively shiners
3) warm coats / mittens (no tent / heater)
4) auger w/ sharp blades
5) ice conditions
6) jack daniels anti-freeze

A cold day of fishing is better than a lot of other days!

My top 3 things that I ALWAYS TAKE are on the ice
#1 Ice picks
#2 spud bar. Which has multiple uses
#3 a boat bumper attached to 50 ft of rope with a Caribiner or quick link.
I have gone through the ice once and IT SUCKED BIG TIME
Stay safe my friends


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