Ice Fishing

Ice fishing and hunting are among the favourite winter pastimes for recreational and daily living activities. Twenty-two per cent of immersion deaths involving ice can be attributed to fishing, and hunting accounts for 9%. In addition, causes of falls into cold water (not through ice) include fishing (8%) and hunting (3%).
Many factors affect ice thickness including type of water, location, the time of year and other environmental factors such as:
  • Water depth and size of body of water.
  • Currents, tides and other moving water.
  • Chemicals including salt.
  • Fluctuations in water levels.
  • Logs, rocks and docks absorbing heat from the sun.
  • Changing air temperature.
  • Shock waves from vehicles traveling on the ice.
There are several steps that can be taken to ensure your time in, on or around ice is always safe and enjoyable.

Tips for safe ice fishing

Don’t trust the ice—always be aware of the thickness and quality of ice to reduce risk of breaking through
  • Check with local authorities for regional guidelines and information on local ice conditions for the particular water body before heading out on the ice.
  • Where ice is checked for thickness, obey posted signs on when and where ice surface is acceptable for activities.
  • Avoid any open holes in lakes and rivers, or open ocean water.
  • Avoid traveling on any ice in non-daylight hours.
  • Be aware of currents and/or tides as these locations cannot be trusted to have consistent ice thickness.
  • Fish with a buddy
    • Avoid going out on the ice alone to ensure rescue is an option. Discuss rescue procedures in advance to ensure all fishers know how to perform a rescue safely.
    • If your pet falls through the ice, call for help. Resist the temptation to go out onto the ice after them.
  • Check the ice thickness
    • Many ice fishers will drive a motor vehicle, snowmobile or ATV to their fishing hut. It is important to be aware that ice is always changing. The increase in thickness and hardness required in proportion to the weight of a load and how it is distributed on the ice sheet will determine the required thickness.  
  • Wear a flotation device and cold protection suit, even if you’re fishing from shore or on thick ice.
  • Carry rescue equipment
    • This includes ice picks, a rope, a cell phone (in a waterproof container) and a first aid kit. Other safety equipment to be considered includes: flashlight, waterproof matches/lighter, tool kit, candles and survival blanket.
  • Save the alcohol for when you get home and are telling the fish tales.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid class to learn the signs and treatment for cold-related emergencies: