How Thick Should Ice Be For Ice Fishing?

How Thick Should Ice Be For Ice Fishing
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When it comes to ice fishing, you have to consider all the necessary precautions, and requirements of fishing, plus those added by the fact that you’ll be standing on ice.

Things such as the thickness of the ice, are super important to be aware of, as they are one of the main determining factors safety-wise. So… how thick should ice be for you to go ice fishing on it? 

How Thick Should Ice Be For Ice Fishing? 

As a general rule, the ice should be at least 4 inches thick, for it to be safe for ice fishing. This is because 4 inches of solid clear ice is the requirement for safely withstanding an average person’s weight.

(Of course, the actual requirement then varies from person to person, but 4 inches should always be the minimum so that you’re guaranteed to be safe). 

However, the thickness of the ice isn’t the only thing to consider, as you should avoid any ice that looks cracked, or that is near inlets of moving water. 

But seeing as the right ice thickness is a pretty big safety requirement for ice fishing, let’s go through how you should be testing said ice thickness.

You will need:

  • A spud bar, chisel, or ice auger
  • A ruler or tape measurer

And for safety sake, whenever you go ice fishing, or even when you’re just out measuring the thickness of the ice, you should also have: 

  • Ice picks
  • A strong safety rope
  • A life jacket
  • A well-charged cell phone, in case you need to phone for help 

Once you have the necessary materials, and you’ve made sure you’re safe and well prepared, it’s time to measure the thickness of the ice: 

  1. To begin, find an area of ice that is clear, with no cracks. It should also be far from any inlets with moving water, and it should not be covered in snow or anything else that might hide what is underneath. 
  1. Take the spud bar, chisel, or ice auger, and make a hole in the ice. Depending on how thick it is, this step will take longer, and might be harder. You have to keep making the hole deeper until you reach the water below. 
  1. Next, take the ruler or tape measurer and insert it into the hole, all the way to the water. This is how you can take the measurement of how thick the ice is, from the water to where you’re standing on the surface. 

Remember that the ice needs to be at least 4 inches thick in order for it to allow for safe ice fishing. 

Can you ice fish on 2 inches of ice?

The answer to this is no. You cannot fish on 2 inches of ice. 

Technically, if you’re under the average weight of a human, it might be safe for you to fish on 2 inches of ice, and nobody is going to stop you as it isn’t exactly a law. 

But the general rule for ice fishing safety states that 4 inches of clear solid ice is the requirement to safely hold the average weight of a person, and that is therefore the ice-thickness that is guaranteed to be safe to fish on. 

Therefore, you should always aim to have at least 4 inches of ice beneath you.

And you should be checking the thickness of the ice through the appropriate method, and taking into account the necessary safety measures so that you don’t suffer any accidents and fall through the ice. 

Is snow bad for ice fishing? 

When you’re ice fishing, you should avoid areas of ice that are covered in snow, because this will negatively affect the overall safety of the endeavor. So we could say that yes, snow is bad for ice fishing. 

The reason why snow can make ice fishing more dangerous is that, for one, it stops you from having full visibility of the ice. So you might not see that it has cracked! 

A pile of snow can also add pressure and weight onto the ice, decreasing its safety, and compromising your position. On top of that, snow can act as a cover over the ice, insulating it.

This causes the ice to become warmer, affecting the freezing process and even causing it to no longer be solid enough to withstand your weight. 

So overall, avoid snow on the ice at all costs, because it can seriously compromise your safety, and can lead to you falling through the ice. 

Another important factor, that you should take into consideration when it comes to ensuring your safety, is that you should have all of the necessary equipment and gear, including the items that are there to help you in the case of an emergency or accident. (Like the ice picks, the safety rope, and the charged cell phone). 

Another very important rule is that you should never ever go ice fishing alone. This applies to almost any sport, but especially those that pose a serious risk to your life.

Having someone else there can be the difference between falling through the ice and drowning, or falling through the ice and being saved. 

You should also, of course, dress for the weather (spoiler alert: it’s cold). And also, you should know the area well before ice fishing.

Make sure it’s a trusted area, and that you’ve double-checked it beforehand to guarantee it is safe, and that the ice is solid enough. 

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