Anglers encouraged to be safe on the ice

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Wyo4News staff, [email protected]

February 1, 2024 — Ice fishing season is in full swing, with anglers dropping lines across the state. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds anglers of safety practices before venturing onto the ice. Ice on many waters may not be safe, especially with variable temperatures and wind conditions throughout the state. 

“Ice fishing is a fun winter activity that gets you outdoors, but it does require attention to safety,” said Alan Osterland, Game and Fish chief of fisheries. “Variable temperatures and wind conditions across the state can lead to unsafe conditions. Anglers should be aware of ice safety tips and be prepared for accidents.” 

Ice fishing safety tips

Ice that is at least four inches thick is considered safe for fishing and activities on foot. Anglers should make special efforts to check the thickness of the ice every 100-150 feet. Avoid fissures in the ice and significant-sized cracks that can emerge on a lake. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or white ice, which has frozen, thawed, and refrozen. Cloudy ice is not always stable. White ice can also be from air bubbles or frozen snow and is much weaker than clear ice. For white ice, double the recommended thickness in terms of being safe while fishing.

Fluctuating water levels in reservoirs and wind can create dangerous ice conditions. Be aware of recent weather conditions and scout the lake you wish to fish for overflow, wet areas, and open water. Anglers are encouraged to contact local fishing or outdoor recreation stores for updates regarding ice conditions at lakes and reservoirs in the area.

Prioritizing safety while ice fishing is key to preventing accidental drownings. 

“The best way to stay safe is to be extra cautious — avoid driving a motorized vehicle on a frozen lake and ice fishing on rivers or other moving water that has frozen over,” Osterland said.

Osterland also recommends that anglers not fish alone. They should wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device and carry an ice pick. Packing extra clothes and hot liquids can help prevent hypothermia if an ice fishing accident occurs. 

Anglers venturing on fishing trips this winter also should keep in mind the Fishing Regulations and the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provisions.