With the arrival of winter, Lake Champlain’s hard water anglers have brought their ice augers out of storage. Before you bundle up and head out on the ice, review this checklist of essential ice fishing safety gear so your trip is fun and safe.
Ice cleats or creepers attach to the bottom of your boots. They can have adjustable straps or be rubber overshoes with metal teeth or spikes. They provide more traction on slippery ice and can help to prevent falls.
An ice chisel or spud is a long-handled blade that comes to a point on one side. You use an ice chisel to punch a hole through the ice before you take a step. This helps you to check the ice thickness.
Ice safety picks are two spikes that are usually connected by a cord. The ice picks are stuck into the ice and used to pull you back onto the ice if you happen to fall through. Always bring two ice picks and wear them around your neck so that they are within quick reach.
A floating rescue rope can be used if someone falls through the ice. You can help them by throwing the rope to them from a safe distance. If you should fall through, throw one end of the floating rope to a rescuer.
Many ice anglers wear ice fishing suits or flotation suits to help to keep them warm, but the suits can also make it easier for you to climb out if you fall through the ice.
When spending cold days outdoors on the ice, a significant amount of body heat can be lost through the head. A thick hat that covers your ears is important to help keep body heat.
Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves because they trap more body heat. If you wear base layer gloves underneath your mittens, you can just take your mittens off and still have your fingers free when you need to tie lines or take a fish off of a hook.
Hand warmers are a good way to help keep your hands warm during ice fishing season. Buy a pair of hand warmers to put into the pockets of your jacket or inside of your gloves.
You will need to have a cell phone or radio to make calls for help in the event of an emergency. If you plan to fish in a remote area, make sure you have a radio in case your cell phone won’t work. Pack cell phones and radios in sealed, moisture-proof bags.
You wouldn’t want to leave the dock without a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) in the summer months, and winter shouldn’t be any different. Always bring a life jacket or personal flotation device with you when ice fishing.
Now, you’ve got your gear ready to go. Get out on the ice and enjoy your ice fishing safely.