Ice fishing draws many anglers out in the cold, but ice fishing should only be attempted in certain conditions. For instance, how thick should ice be for ice fishing?
For safe ice fishing, ice must be a minimum of four inches thick. The ice needs to be thick enough without worrying about falling through. Remember, four inches is the minimum thickness for safe ice fishing.
Since the ice needs to be thick, you’ll need to bring a few tools with you once you discover a suitable spot to get through the ice and start fishing.
How Thick Should Ice Be For Ice Fishing?
Ice 3 inches thick or less is not safe for any amount of weight. This is why four inches is the bare minimum recommended. Moreover, the ice shouldn’t be super fresh. It should have been freezing for quite some time to develop some strength, meaning weather conditions should have been cold for some time.
If you happen upon white ice and want to fish, this particular type of ice should be at least eight inches thick before you walk in it.
How Can You Tell If Ice Is Thick Enough?
Some visual cues will let you know if the ice is both a suitable thickness and safe to walk on. You want to try and spot any cracks or soft spots where the water is starting to melt on the top layer of ice. Strong ice also tends to be blue and somewhat transparent.
If the ice looks strong, drill a small hole that’ll fit a measuring tape through. This will help you measure exactly how thick the ice is. If the ice is thick enough but feels soft when you step on it, it’s likely not frozen enough to be stable.
Any ice that is clear and without color is likely too fresh and new to be stable.
How Do You Break Through The Ice?
You’ll have to make a hole to drop a fishing line into the ice. You can use an ice chisel or an ice auger to do this. Ice augers are quicker since they’re usually gas or battery-operated. You can bring your cordless drill and an auger bit if all else fails to make your fishing hole.
When Is The Best Time Of Year To Go Ice Fishing?
You’re likely to find the best icy conditions for ice fishing in the late winter. The timing can vary slightly depending on where you plan to ice fish, but generally speaking, the best time to head out is from February to March.
The best time of day to head out onto the ice is very early morning, around sunrise. Fish will usually be active underneath the ice for a couple hours after sunrise. About two hours before and after sunset can also be great time to go ice fishing.
Some experienced anglers will go ice fishing at night if they are looking to catch particular fish. This, of course, comes with its own risk, as visibility is lessened at night. The same protocols for ensuring ice is thick enough must be followed.
Tips For Safe Ice Fishing
Try to avoid parking any type of vehicle used directly on the ice. If your vehicle has to be on the ice for you to access your fishing spot, be sure to go and measure the ice it’ll be parked on beforehand. For most vehicles, ice must be between 10 and 15 inches thick.
You also want to move your car slightly to a new spot every couple hours, so it doesn’t fall through the ice. You’ll know that the ice is too unsteady for a car if water comes up out of the hole you create when you measure the ice.
It’s also always recommended to tell someone where you’re heading for your ice fishing trip and how long you plan to be out on the ice, so they know to expect a call from you by a certain time to know you’re safe.