Ice fishing during winter can be challenging if you are new to the process. On top of that, you can put yourself in danger if you are not sure what thickness of ice is required to walk. Here’s everything you need to know about ice fishing so you can get started!
How do I know if my lake is safe for ice fishing?
You need to make sure that a lake’s ice is thick enough before venturing onto it. If the lake’s ice is any less than 4 inches, then you risk the ice breaking underneath you. If you have had no experience with ice fishing before, then determining how thick the ice is can be difficult. The first thing you should take note of before going ice fishing is how cold it has been for how long. If it has been a long enough period of time for safe ice to build up on top of a lake, then you will not encounter any issues with ice fishing. Bearing that in mind, it is a safe assumption that the most dangerous times to go ice fishing are near the beginning or end of the winter season.
When heading out to a lake, you should perform a visual inspection before stepping onto it. If the lake has cracks or water on top of the ice, then that is a sign of instability and melting. You should be overly cautious when you see signs such as these. You should also take note of the color of the ice, as it can indicate the strength of the frozen water. For example, clear blue ice is the strongest and thickest ice that will form on top of a lake. Blue ice has a minimum thickness of 12 inches which is more than enough to support a person or even a vehicle.
How long does it take for 4 inches of ice to form on a lake?
Ice forms relatively quickly; however, thick ice takes time to manifest. It takes an average of 4 days of below-freezing temperatures for 4 inches of ice to form. With that being said, there are other factors that you need to consider. If the lake has a strong current or the water body is particularly large, then it can take a longer time to freeze over.
There are tools that you can use to measure the thickness of a lake’s ice. These drills can tell you the depth of a lake before you go fishing, thereby allowing you to avoid any potential danger.
What part of a lake is best for ice fishing?
The best depth of water to go ice fishing is the 8 – 20 ft zone. This, of course, is dependent on the species and the time of year; however, most fish choose to remain at this depth during the colder seasons. To reach this depth of water, you are going to have to travel relatively far out into the lake. If you were planning on staying near the shore, then you should expect fewer fish on the line. That said, you should do what makes you comfortable so you can have the best experience possible out on the lake. Another great option for fishing during winter months is to find a hot hole.
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