Staying Safe On the Ice 101

Staying Safe On the Ice 101


Ice fishing can be some of the most exciting and rewarding types of fishing for those willing to brave the cold! However, being on the water in temperatures below freezing can also pose multiple risks to anglers. Knowing how to act and react when something goes wrong on the ice will make you feel much safer while ice fishing, but more importantly, could save your life if something were to go wrong.

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 Video transcript:

Paul Glass:
What's going on everybody. Welcome back to the Burly Fishing channel, the Monsterbass channel. We are Burly Fishing. This is Jeff. I am Paul. I'm really excited to this. This is first ice, so this is the first time we've been out on this lake specifically. But really the first time I've been on any lake this year and felt safe enough to walk out.

Paul Glass:
What I want to do today is walk through how you can check your local lake to make sure that you're going to be safe when you hit the ice. There's a couple things you really should know whether you're a veteran or whether you're somebody who is new to ice fishing.

Paul Glass:
In the summertime, if you've got a life vest on and you fall to the water, you could just float. You're going to most times, as long as it's an absolute gill force, you're going to be okay. When you're ice fishing, if you fall through the ice and you fall into the water, you've got some legit problems because-

Jeff:
It's bad.

Paul Glass:
If you don't get out and you don't get to safety quickly and you don't warm yourself up you could die and that is not good. We want you to be safe, we want everyone to be safe but we want people to be able to enjoy ice fishing because it is a ton of fun. Now, a couple things to keep in mind, some just generic standard information that you need to know. What is safe ice, if you are walking? If you have maybe a sled behind you, like I have, or like Jeff has right here. If you have a sled like that and you're walking like Jeff and I are today, safe ice for me and in general, most DNR websites are going to say four inches or more of ice.

Paul Glass:
That may seem like a lot, but that's really a couple weeks into the ice fishing season. Now the reason it's four inches is what you want to do is you want to give yourself some leeway. When you have a couple of warm days in a row, maybe you had some rain, maybe there's a lot of snow pack that's actually insulating the ice and potentially even warming it up. You want to be able to see some soft spots and be able to withstand that as you're walking. That's why it's four inches. You're giving yourself a little bit of leeway in case there's some thinner ice, some cracks or any of those other things that can make the ice unsafe.

Paul Glass:
Three inches or less and you're really in a scenario where even in and above just weighing too much and potentially falling through. The ice isn't perfectly uniform, there are bumps. There's more shallow areas with muck that retain more heat and you can have areas that are more and less safe. So, four inches is really where you're going to want to be just to make sure that you can withstand some of what's going on underneath the water and any variance that's going on with the ice, because again, it is not uniform.

Paul Glass:
How do you know how deep the ice is? A couple of things that I actually use in order to make sure that I'm getting be safe. Before I even get out, the first thing I'm looking for is signs of foot traffic, right? If I know other people have been out on the lake, I know that at least someone has walked out and made it out okay. I'm also going to look for dark patches. If I see dark patches and snow, I know that there's water seeping up through the ice or at least there's water that is melted and is settled on top of the ice.

Paul Glass:
Dark patches are dangerous and they're not just dangerous where that dark patch is. They're dangerous in that whole area. If I see a lot of dark patching in the snow or in the ice, I'm probably going to stay away.

Jeff:
No, no.

Paul Glass:
If I see foot traffic, if I see where their sleds have been coming on and off the ice and I see holes have been dug, I'm feeling pretty good. If I see someone that's driven a four wheeler on the ice-

Jeff:
Not worried at all.

Paul Glass:
Feeling real good. What we have today is a situation where, as you could see, some folks have been walking on here, a lot of footprints and a lot of places where sleds have come and gone safely. S.

Paul Glass:
That tells me as of right now, so far, we're pretty sure around safe ice. Now, the next thing you're going to want to do is start drilling some holes and checking that ice thickness. What I'm going to do is I'm going to take my drill, whether it's a hand auger, or a battery operated auger, or a drill operated auger, I'm going to drill some holes. Jeff drill a hole.

Jeff:
That's already a good sign.

Paul Glass:
Yeah, what we're-

Jeff:
Took a minute.

Paul Glass:
Exactly. What we're seeing here is, and again, what you're going to do is you're going to drill holes as you walk out. So, drill a hole right when you get on the water, when you know there's more than like six inches for your drill to get through but go ahead and drill that first hole and just check the ice. So, we're seeing right here is do easy six inches. Easily six inches of ice, very safer walking and actually safer for some other things too.

Paul Glass:
If you want to bring extra gear, you're at that spot but just remember the ice is not uniform so what we're going to do is we're going to keep drilling holes until we start to either see, or as we want to continue to see safe ice. But if we start to see that it thins out, we know we're maybe not in a safe area. We're going to go ahead and back up or we're going to get off the water entirely. Let's go ahead and get to our spot and start drilling some holes.

Paul Glass:
Now a couple things that you can make sure that you have on you to make sure that you stay safe. So, what is this weird bar that Jeff has? This is actually a cable attached to both sides of this bar and there are spikes at the bottom here. Little metal spikes. What's going to happen is, let's say Jeff fell through the ice. If Jeff falls through the ice, he's got these ready to go above the water. Doesn't have to look for them and you can use those to jam and to the ice to give yourself enough grip to crawl out.

Paul Glass:
You're not going to have anything for you to kick against. You're going to wearing big boots and bibs and, and things that just get soaked so kicking out of the water's going to be very difficult. This gives you something to help crawl out of the ice with. That is number one. Number two is actually on Jeff's feet. Number two, you're going to see these. Give me the foot, let's go.

Jeff:
My foot. Oh my god, it's so heavy. (laughs)

Paul Glass:
Ice spikes. (laughs).

Paul Glass:
Those are spikes on Jeff's feet. They give him extra traction as he's walking. Now, is that going to necessarily help you once you're in the water? No, but it's going to help you stay safe when you're on top of the ice, which is also critical. Falling on your butt, not fun. And then last but not least is floatable bibs. Actually this year is new for me. This is a Striker Ice Predator Bib. There's many out there. This is just what I happen to pick and I know Jeff's using the same bibs as well.

Paul Glass:
These actually float. So, let's say you were to fall through the ice. You're actually going to get enough flotation to keep your body above the water, making it a lot easier and a lot safer should you happen to fall through because again, the ice is not uniform. You never know what could happen. The coat is definitely going to triple protect you. I don't need it today. I actually feel really good about this ice. We feel pretty safe today.

Paul Glass:
We're going to continue to check as we go, but having a floatable bib coat set-up, that is going to be hugely helpful as an investment for me as someone who ice fishes a lot. And your final piece, probably the, is this probably the thing that's going to make you feel the most safe next to drilling holes I would say?

Jeff:
I think so.

Paul Glass:
Is going to be what's called a spud. It's just a giant piece of metal with a spike at the end. What you're going to do is, as you walk.

Paul Glass:
Go ahead and tilt this down.

Paul Glass:
As you walk, you're basically going to jam holes in to the ice. What that's going to do is basically tell you what's the situation. There's actually a whole bunch of information that you can get from spudding through the ice. One, if it goes all the way through, you know you're at less than two inches.

Jeff:
Yep.

Paul Glass:
If you can slam that down and get this piece of metal all the way through the ice, just by doing that, you're less than two inches. You are not on safe ice. You need to turn back. As you're chipping, if you start to see water pooling up as you're walking, you know that you're approaching that two inch or less area and you know you should turn back. If you're seeing a lot of chipping of that ice, as you're walking, that's actually fantastic. That means you have really cold, hard ice, which is ideal. The other thing too is if you're walking in snow, you actually no idea what you're looking at at all.

Paul Glass:
You don't know how much is snow. You don't know what's ice and you don't know what's happening beneath. Having a spud, if there's snow on top of the ice can be a huge benefit. If you're only going to bring a couple of things other than staying warm, I would say the spud is absolutely one. Then the other, I would say is probably these bad boys and if you can afford it, get some floatable stuff. That's my recommendation.

Paul Glass:
But bar none, the safest thing that you can do, if you do nothing else is check your holes as you go. Measure the ice thickness as you walk, that's the most important thing. And again, at Monsterbass, at Burley fishing, and anywhere in the world, we want you to stay safe on your ice fishing, but what you want, you want you to have fun.

Jeff:
Not being wet and cold is fun.

Paul Glass:
Well, and it can keep you alive. (laughs).

Jeff:
Being alive is also fun.

Paul Glass:
Being alive is like the most fun.

Jeff:
Possibly as much fun as not being cold and wet.

Paul Glass:
Or more.

Jeff:
Maybe more.

Paul Glass:
All right, so we got our sleds, we got our drill. I'm going to take the spud. I'm going to go ahead and check the ice as we go and then Jeff's going to drill, maybe at 15, 20 yards until we get over there.

Jeff:
(Singing) Wait, what?

Paul Glass:
Wait, that's not the song.

Paul Glass:
So we're still looking at six to two

Jeff:
Still six.

Paul Glass:
That's first checker at six inches then getting great reads on the spikes. No water on top. So far so good.

Paul Glass:
Check that one right here.

Paul Glass:
And, oh yeah.

Jeff:
Perfect.

Paul Glass:
We are golden.

Jeff:
Yep.

Paul Glass:
We've got awesome ice here. We picked a safe spot that we knew was going to be safe, but we do know we have a safe ice so now we can drill our holes and we can hopefully catch a trailing fish. Let's go.

Jeff:
Yep. We got some lurkers. Decent size. Got him. Got one. Bass. (laughs).

Jeff:
I freaking called it, dude. They were like decent size marks. There we go. Another little dude. All right, get a quick release on this guy. All right, buddy. Okay. Well, pink jigs still doing pink jig things. Got him Gill. First gill of the day. Got him.

Paul Glass:
Got him quick.

Jeff:
What's it going to be? Fighting. Holy cow.

Paul Glass:
Fight?

Jeff:
No. Whoa, slabber.

Paul Glass:
Yeah.

Jeff:
(Laughs).

Paul Glass:
In what world?

Jeff:
This world. What do you mean in what world? The world we're currently living in.

Jeff:
Is a medius fish. We've seent. Hey, cut it out. You're getting your picture taken, you nerd. Really clean looking fish though. It's a tang. It's a freaking tang. Fishing with Jeff. It has gills. It's huge.

Paul Glass:
Massive.

Jeff:
All right.

Paul Glass:
Dammit. No. Hold on. Stupid. Oh my God.

Jeff:
I'm doing the Wisconsin Wildman trick. Dump hole (laughing).

Paul Glass:
Yeah.

Jeff:
Oh dude, just sipping this thing. Got him. (Laughing).

Paul Glass:
Hey, whatever man.

Jeff:
Freaking tangs.

Paul Glass:
Tangs all day.

Jeff:
Oh, got him. Dude.

Paul Glass:
Good one?

Jeff:
No, but I mean better than the last one. Just feels good to be catching fish, gosh dang it.

Paul Glass:
I'm missing-

Jeff:
Thanks, buddy.

Paul Glass:
Got him.

Jeff:
Nice.

Paul Glass:
Oh, look at what I'm fishing.

Jeff:
Bass.

Paul Glass:
Dude. I'm getting the little tiniest tappy taps off this thing. I like this rod. This is great. Bye, nerd.

Jeff:
Definitely got a more timid bunch with this jig. Then they're on. Whoa buddy. Come on up, come on up, come on up, come on up. Be a keeper. Nope (laughs). Redears, dude. Redears all day.

Paul Glass:
Yeah.

Jeff:
I'm loving it.

Paul Glass:
Oh, yeah. Good fish. Spoon, baby. Oh, good bass. Another bass.

Jeff:
Oh my God. There's no way, dude.

Paul Glass:
(Laughing).

Jeff:
Oh, I missed fishing. Oh my God. Got him. Might be a keeper? No. The bass.

Paul Glass:
Another bass.

Jeff:
(Laughing).

Jeff:
These freaking guys, dude. Oh, wow. Y'all, I've never caught this many bass on the ice. That's guaranteed positive. They are all tiny, but you know what? We still love them. Bye, buddy. Hope find your dad.

Paul Glass:
Got him. Demon tang for the win. This is better. Oh yeah.

Jeff:
Sorry, is that a tang?

Paul Glass:
That is not a tang. That is a beautiful fish. Holy cow. That is what we've got for you today. Those are our tips for staying safe on the ice.

Jeff:
If you guys enjoyed the content, be sure to subscribe. Smash a like and then choke slam off the top ropes, potentially, that notification bell so you can see when we drop more great content. Love you. See you on the next video. Okay, bye.

Paul Glass:
Don't forget to check out Burley fishing. We do a heck ton of this as well so if you want more tips and tricks, come check us out too. But we're ice fishing. Bye.

Jeff:
I'm already fishing.

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