March 31 officially wraps up the ice fishing season for the year which means extra caution should be used with retrieving your ice fishing shack if you haven’t done that already. There are a variety of risks associated with late season ice fishing which include falling through the ice, entrapment, and loss of property.
Here are a few tips to keep you safe in the next couple weeks as the season closes:
Watch out for ice heaves! Ice heaves can be hidden under the show and can cause damage or loss of control of a vehicle. Further, an ice heave typically indicates that there is a fault line in the ice and there is a possibility that there could be a gap, a thin section of ice, or a risk of becoming stuck between the layers.
Talk to the locals before driving onto ice. The locals in the area that are familiar with the lake will know the thickness of the ice, danger areas based on currents, and weather patterns from the past number of weeks. Taking a moment to talk to a local might save your life, or property from being lost
Watch out for signs of open water on the ice. This could just be from surface melting, however there is a risk that the ice below has thinned substantially and is unsafe. Avoid areas with surface water and make sure to thoroughly check areas if water is present before you enter them.
Use the buddy system. If you are able, take along an able bodied person with you to help retrieve a shack. Make sure that you enter areas one at a time when possible so that if there is trouble, the other person can help you out of a situation.
Make sure to keep safe on the ice these final few weeks. Take a friend, make sure people know where you are going, and keep a fully charge cell phone with you so that you can call for help if needed.