Ice fishing is a favourite winter past time here in Norfolk County. It seems like it’s been years since the ice was safe enough to venture out onto. This winter looks like a great one for some serious ice fishing.
If you’re planning to go ice fishing this winter, we want to make sure you stay safe and have fun. Here’s a few tips to make your ice fishing trip enjoyable and safe.
1. If ice fishing is new to you, hire a charter. Jimmy Riggin’ in Long Point offers charters out of the Old Cut channel (Dickinson Creek). Bayside Ice Fishing and Granger’s Ice fishing offer charters out of St. Williams. The daily rates includes your ride to and from the hut and more.
2. Always be aware of thickness and quality of ice.
3. Park all vehicles, sleds etc facing shore and carry a compass. Once on the ice, make sure you leave yourself some sort of sign as to which way shore is. Should a storm blow up it is very easy to get disoriented, especially if you have been inside a hut all day. Knowing which way to travel to get home safely is key.
4. Never travel on the ice in non-day light hours.
5. Fish with a buddy. Avoid going alone to ensure rescue is an option. It’s also a great way to ensure safe return to shore.
6. Dress in layers. This winter has proven to a cold one, setting record lows already. To avoid hypothermia or frost bite, dress in layers. Your hut may keep you warm, but travel to and from can be bitter.
7. Spread out! If there are too many people too close together it can drastically change the strength of the ice.
8. Carry safety equipment. Ensure you have some sort of communication – cell phone or radio. Your cell phone, which likely has GPS abilities is a great way to ensure safe returns. If you can’t find your way, you can send your location to local authorities to help find you safely. Carry a throw rope, ice picks, wear a life jacket and bring a change of dry clothes.
9. Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for flowing water, holes and large cracks. Listen to whats happening around you. The first sound of bad ice is cracking. Though minor cracking is normal (you will get used to these noises), cracking is a sign to move to another spot on the ice.
10. Before you leave tell someone. Make sure that someone at home knows your plans; where you are going and when you plan to return.