Safety First! Our crazy Montana weather is constantly changing. One day it is 50 degrees then we are back to the minus digits. Cold weather makes ice.
Hard ice will keep you safe if it is at least 3 inches thick. For Big Boys like me, maybe 5 inches is smarter. Be ice aware at this time of the year. As the weather changes, so does the ice. Snow insulates slush. Warm days makes more slush and another layer of snow will top it off. You often can’t see old holes that may still be unfrozen and dangerous. Old, sloppy ice can kill you. Using a ski pole to test the footing ahead of you is smart.
Smart Iceman do more than One Thing to stay safe. Start with your clothing. The new Ice wear bibs and coats are made to keep you afloat. The waterproof knees keep you dry when you kneel. For the money, these warm outfits can save your life. Aren’t you worth it?
Also carry the ice picks around your neck incase you drop into the water. These picks will allow you to stick them in the ice and drag yourself out. You have only a few minutes before Hypothermia or shock sets in. You may still float but…
A Throw rope is a smart carry on. Use a nylon braided rope and tie one end to a plastic jug. 20-30 feet will do. Make a loop on the other end and allow this end to hang out of the jug. Feed the rest of the rope into the jugs spout. It will not tangle. In an emergency, place the loop around your hand and throw the jug to the victim. They can grab the jug and rope. Now drag them onto the ice. This safety jug also is smart to keep in any boat. It never tangles, is easy to throw, is inexpensive, and could save a life.
Keep an eye out for everyone on the lake. Many of the lakes I fish do not have a cell signal. If you hope for a rescue by emergency services, they will be too late. Other fishermen are your safety net. We are all in this together.
Most ice issues happen close to shore, in crowded heavily fished areas, or over geothermal features and springs.
Always step on solid ice!
For more Montana Grant, find him chillin at www.montanagrantfishing.com.