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Iowa ice fishing well underway

December 15, 2009 at 03:12 PM

Ice safeyty

One inch of ice is not safe. 

Two inches of ice can support on person on foot, under good conditions. 

Three inches of ice can support a group in single file or spread out. 

Four inches supports general use. 

Five inches for snowmobiles.


DES MOINES – Ice fishing is underway across the northern two-thirds of Iowa and with cold temperatures predicted for the remainder of the week, ice anglers by the thousands should be drilling by this weekend. 

There is usually a “hurry up” mentality among ice anglers who want to get out on the first ice of the year because it usually has some of the best fishing success of the season.  But anglers are encouraged to test that ice early and often as they set out. 

“Different factors can influence the rate of ice forming on the same body of water so it would be wise to test the ice thickness frequently as you head out,” said Mick Klemesrud with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  “Ice thickness is not uniform on any body of water and there is no such thing as safe ice.  There is always risk associated with going out on ice.”

Anglers should use their judgment and trust their instincts.  If the ice does not look right, don’t go out.  It is also a good idea to follow others footsteps when going out.

Anglers should include a few ice rescue items in their fishing bucket, like 50 feet of rope and ice picks, and to sit on a throwable float cushion that can be used in the case of emergency.

“One thing we really don’t like to see is when a lake freezes then is covered with a blanket of snow that will actually insulate the ice slowing the cold weather from
growing ice and it can hide potential hazards or weak spots,” Klemesrud said.  “The strong winds that followed last weeks heavy snow fall likely blew much of the snow off the frozen water which is good news, but there are likely areas on the lake where the snow drifted and those would be places you would want to avoid.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources follows the general guidelines tabulated by the Lumbermen’s Safety Association and other sources and should be considered minimum thickness guidelines.

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