Everything you need to know about ice fishing

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(U.S. Army Photo by Scott T. Sturkol, Public Affairs Office, Fort McCoy, Wis.)

From desolate and outlying locations to lakes situated near town centers that are major tourist attractions, ice fishing is becoming a regular activity, especially for veterans in cold locations. Waiting for long winter seasons to end to fish can sometimes be bothersome and unbearable. Some people find no need to stay inside, waiting for the sun to scorch for the ice to melt. The solitude of being on top of a frozen lake is like a sporting challenge as it spikes the adrenaline levels. While ice fishing is not forbidden, you must be cautious when undertaking the activity since it is as dangerous as it is fun. Preparation and safety rules must be followed to stay safe and have a good time. This is particularly vital for less-experienced anglers. 

For those more interested in the fishing and less interested in the variables of the great outdoors, check out the Patriot House Project. In partnership with Ice Castle Fish Houses and Smokey Hills Outdoor Store, the Patriot House program is for Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement, First Responders and their families. An Ice Castle Fish House ready to fish, located in the Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids Area, from December through February. Not visiting an ice castle fish house? Here’s what you need to pay attention to:

Ice Thickness

The worst fear that comes with ice fishing is possibly falling through the ice and drowning. Most people remember to confirm the ice thickness but forget to check the color. Ice color can tell a lot about the safety of the ice as it determines the quality. If the ice is clear or blue, it is strong, stable, and can handle pressure so you will not fall through the ice. According to studies by experts, clear ice is the safest and can be walked on by humans. If the ice is white, it might be unstable and dangerous; therefore, it is best to keep away from it. However, if you check the white ice thickness and approve of it, go ahead and ice fish. Remember that the white ice must be twice as thick as blue ice before being declared safe. Similarly, grey or tinted white ice should be avoided as it is unsafe.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Marcin Platek/Released)

Keep up with the currents

This is one of the factors ice anglers forget to check. Currents are among the hidden dangers of ice fishing because they barely show when the water is not frozen. Before ice fishing in any lake, familiarize yourself with the water and the area so you can note the currents trends. Moving water generally has thinner ice than still water, so the risk of falling through the ice and drowning is higher. At first, you won’t notice the ice thinness, but once the water starts moving, it suddenly becomes twenty percent thinner. Such ice will not withstand your weight or any pressure exerted on it.

Cold burns

Experienced anglers often carry heaters with them when ice fishing because they know the dangers of cold burns. It is not unusual to find anglers without heaters out there because some heaters work best when indoors. While the body can warm itself, carrying a heater with you is always good because too much exposure to cold can lead to complications. Cold burns and other injuries can occur when ice fishing under inhospitable weather. Additionally, avoid frostbites by wearing warm, waterproof gloves and a face mask to shield your nose.


Humans naturally tend to drink less water or liquids during colder seasons because the body sweats less. It may seem unnecessary to hydrate yourself when it is cold, but remember that your body uses more energy to keep you warm than usual. To maintain this, you need to feed and drink as regularly as possible. Furthermore, cold and dry air accelerates dehydration thus, you might need more water than you thought. Always ensure you have enough water and food with you when ice fishing and avoid alcohol as well because it is a dehydrant.