Ice Conditions Around Montana Require Caution and Experience
By rowdyrob

Posted: January 7, 2016

With the consistently cold weather that we have been experience over the past month or so, it would seem that the ice around Montana bodies of water would be plenty thick to support ice fisherman, snowmobiles and four wheelers.  This is not always the case however.  On New Years Day, Ryan Sokoloski was leading a Montana FWP tour on Placid Lake with about six participants to listen to the creek of the ice moving on the water.  Quickly after going to a spot that he had tested a day prior and about 15 feet away from a spot that an ice fisherman had setup a hut, Sokoloski found himself through the ice almost fully submerged.  The ice had given away unexpectedly as there were no warning signs of cracks, water spots etc.  As he tried to get back onto the ice, another member of the party tried to pull him out and was soon waste deep in water as well.   Sokoloski kept grabbing the ice surface to try and pull himself up, but created a bigger hole in the process as the ice kept giving away.  Eventually, he ended up standing on something about 4 feet down and was able to grab a pole and a snow shovel that was extended from two of the tour members to pull him out.  After the incident, Sokoloski was thankful that he was with the tour as it proved to be a great learning experience for all.


Read the list below of ways to help yourself on the ice when you are alone, or with others.  All information provided by  Read the full article here.

Photo Provided by: Tom Bauer, Missoulian


Lake ice safety tips

If you get into trouble on lake ice and you’re by yourself:

  • Call for help.
  • Resist the immediate urge to climb back out where you fell in. The ice is weak in this area.
  • Use the air trapped in your clothing to get into a floating position on your stomach.
  • Reach forward onto the broken ice without pushing down. Kick your legs to push your torso on the ice.
  • When you are back on the ice, crawl on your stomach or roll away from the open area with your arms and legs spread out as far as possible to evenly distribute your body weight. Do not stand up. Look for shore and make sure you are going in the right direction.

When you are with others on the ice:

  • Rescuing another person from ice can be dangerous. The safest way to perform a rescue is from shore.
  • Call for help. Consider whether you can quickly get help from trained professionals (police, fire fighters or ambulance) or bystanders.
  • Check if you can reach the person using a long pole or branch from shore – if so, lie down and extend the pole to the person.
  • If you go onto ice, wear a personal flotation device and carry a long pole or branch to test the ice in front of you. Bring something to reach or throw to the person – a pole, weighted rope, line or tree branch.
  • When near the break, lie down to distribute your weight and slowly crawl toward the hole.
  • Remaining low, extend or throw your emergency rescue device – pole, rope, line or branch – to the person.
  • Have the person kick while you pull them out.
  • Move the person to a safe position on shore or where you are sure the ice is thick. Signal for help.
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