Ice Fishing Safety - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Ice Fishing Safety

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Addie Olson


The DNR says ice should be at least four inches thick before ice fishing. If using an ATV, they recommend at least six inches.

Calling a local bait shop is one way to check ice depth before heading out.

Darcy Olson, owner of Johnston Bait & Tackle, keeps track of popular ice fishing spots around the metro.

She recommends waiting until the ice is about five inches thick, but reminds her customers that even then the ice can be dangerous.

"People will go out a little less than that and I always think that's a little risky," Olson said. "We have lost several friends from ice fishing incidents."

Darcy sells ice picks that fishermen can wear around their necks. The picks make moving beneath the ice a little easier should they fall through.

"The point comes out and so it can help you dig yourself out," Olson said.

The DNR recommends fishermen drill through the ice as they go to check for consistency.

"One spot you could have four inches, ten feet away you could have two inches," said Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Aron Arthur.

Clear ice is usually the thickest and safest to walk on, but if the ice does break, keeping calm should be the top priority.

"If you do fall in, don't panic," said Arthur. "Get to the top, try to get out."

Carrying a rope could save your life if a friend can use it to pull you out of the water.

It's always safest to go ice fishing with at least one other person. If a friend isn't there to help, be sure one knows where you are.

"Make sure people know your plan, go out there prepared for the worst, so if the worst does happen, you can overcome it."

Every body of water will freeze differently. The DNR releases a weekly fishing report with ice depth information.

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