EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — As the cold weather deepens into January many anglers set out to enjoy a seasonal pastime, Ice fishing.
Ice anglers were out Wednesday at Frances Slocum State Park to enjoy some milder temperatures and maybe even catch some dinner. But, it can be a dangerous hobby.
The most common concern with ice fishing is falling through the ice. But this can be prevented.
“Just make sure the ice is thick enough and you’re not gonna fall in if the ice is thick enough. Don’t do anything stupid. Don’t go out if it’s two or three inches. It’s not worth it. I’ve never fallen through and I’ve been fishing for forty years on the ice,” said Joe Repko, ice fisherman.
The recommended ice thickness is four inches for clear ice or eight inches of white or snow ice.
“Well you drill a couple of pilot holes near the shore, check the ice thickness there before you walk out any further,” said Repko.
Keep checking the ice for every 150 feet out you go.
For any new or young anglers interested in trying it out, Joe Repko has some advice.
“I would tell them to start small. Don’t buy a whole bunch of stuff because if you don’t like it you’re going to end up selling it for half of what it’s worth on eBay or Facebook market. Make sure you wanna do it first. Get outside and go with a few people who have already gone before that way you’ll know if you wanna do it or not,” said Repko
Going with a friend or a group is encouraged in case of any accidents and always avoid ice near moving or open water, including feeder streams and springs.
“If you do fall in, it’s important to stay calm and slowly pull yourself onto the ice, once on the ice, keep low and spread your weight out,” Repko said.
In a release, the NPS outlines several tips and considerations for outdoorsmen and women looking to ice fish.
Those tips include:
- Check ice frequently as you venture out.
- Avoid dark, honeycombed, porus ice or ice that is near moving water.
- Tell friends and/or family where you plan to go fishing.
Most bodies of water do not freeze evenly. The NPS says a minimum of 4 inches of “clear ice” or 8 inches of “white ice” (which is half as strong as clear ice) is the rule for walking on ice. Drill test holes regularly to check the thickness.
In the event that you do fall through the ice, the NPS recommends:
- Don’t panic.
- Use ice safety picks if available to get yourself out of the water. Otherwise, “swim out” by kicking your legs as your pull yourself out.
- Spread your bodyweight evenly on the ice to prevent yourself from falling back in.
- Change into dry clothes as soon as you can.
If you’re helping someone else get out of the water, the NPS says to Reach, Throw, Row, Go.
- Reach – Using a long stick or fishing pole.
- Throw – Using a rope, personal flotation device, or anything else that floats.
- Row – Using a row or push boat.
- Go – Call for help.
For more information, head to the National Park Service website.
Once you get to safety, change clothes and seek shelter because frostbite or hypothermia can occur quickly if left untreated.