The temperatures are getting colder, and we are starting to see some ice form over lakes and ponds. That means its almost time for ice fishing to begin. Chad Dolan with the Iowa DNR gave use some safety tips to get you ready for your first trip out onto the ice. He says you should wait until its been below freezing for a steady amount of time.
When we have temperatures that dip below then rise above freezing, the ice honeycombs and isn’t as strong. Ice that has honeycombed won’t support your weight even if it’s several inches thick.
Once it has been freezing for a long enough period of time, the ice needs to be at least 4 inches thick. Dolan says the best way to test the ice is to drill a hole next to shore and see how thick it is, then, if it’s safe, walk a little further out on the ice and drill a hole there, and keep doing this until your out as far as you want to be.
He recommends getting picks that you can use to grab the ice if you do fall in, and to distribute your weight by getting on all fours or sliding if you need to get back to shore over thin ice. His last tip is to avoid using your vehicles on the ice.
He says northern Iowa might get cold enough to bring vehicles out, but southeast Iowa is a few degrees warmer and has less solid ice. He says the ice would need to be at least a foot thick to drive on it, but he doesn’t recommend it even then.