One thing I will tell you blogging about outdoors “stuff” is it is seasonal and as the seasons repeat so do I. Finally, I have enough confidence in the weather forecast to believe we have some ice-fishing just around the corner! It’s about time! So, you know what that means–my annual blog about ice safety, especially safety on first ice.
Water temperatures across Nebraska have cooled to the point where we are ready to make ice. Duh. What I mean is that the water does not need to cool much more; when we get some cold weather ice is going to start forming. However, it is impossible to predict how soon that ice will be thick enough to be safe to walk on. Oh sure, there are charts and graphs and it absolutely is a physical process that can be modeled and predicted. Problem is, in the real world things do not work that way and there are too many variables like wind, snow cover, waterfowl concentrations, water movements, etc., etc. that influence ice formation. If your buddy makes a proclamation that the ice is going to be safe at a certain time on your favorite lake, he’s full of baloney, don’t believe him. The ONLY way to know if it is safe or not is to check it.
Oh, and by the way, just because there might be a couple of folks already out there with their butts on buckets, do not automatically assume that means it is safe either. You may not necessarily know how they got there, and until YOU check you should not make any assumptions.
I realize that most of you ain’t gonna go back and look at those old blogs, especially if you have seen them before. So, the short version is this: GET A SPUD BAR AND LEARN HOW TO USE IT! After fishing late ice last winter, right up until it was no longer safe, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of an ice chisel or spud bar as an ice safety tool! This video is short, but exactly what I am talking about!
Other safety gear should be used especially on first ice, so make sure you have some ice picks, rope, and a life jacket, and use them! In addition, several brands of modern ice fishing bibs and parkas float and would make excellent Christmas gifts! Keep a dry change of clothes in the vehicle.
We are going to have some ice fishing, and I will be on the ice as soon as anyone, will stay on it as late as anyone, but you just gotta make sure it is safe, every time!
“I wanna ice-fish, baby.”