13 can be an unlucky number. Friday the 13th was when King Phillip outlawed the Pope’s army known as the Templars. Friday the 13th movie series still scares many viewers. Oddly, a Bakers Dozen is about one more ear of corn or egg, than a dozen, for the same price. That’s a good thing.
Anyway, so what does this have to do with Ice Fishing Chillin N Drillin? Well, bad things can happen on the ice. Currently our waters in Montana are frozen solid, but in a few weeks that could all change. When you mix water, ice, wheelers, sharp augers and hooks, freezing temperatures and remote places, things can go south in a hurry. Many of our remote frozen waters have no cell phone service.
We have all seen accidents happen on ice. Here are a few that I have witnessed and what to do when they happen. As a Scoutmaster, and an Iceman, it is important to be prepared.
Falling through the ice. At some point this will become an issue. I have seen it several times early and late in the season. New, thin ice, is weak, old, and soft, rotten ice is also. Normally, I see accidents near the shore when Icemen are getting on, or off, the ice. The water is shallow, and the victims just get wet. Pressure ridges on the main lake are another story. The huge cracks and ridges are obvious but wheelers, and risk takers, try to jump them. It can end badly.
Wearing a set of corded ice picks around your neck will help you get out of the water faster. Once you get wet, the clock is ticking. If the breakthrough is on thin ice, slide a tethered sled to the victim or use a throw jug rope to drag them out. Now get to the truck or build a fire.
Falling on the Ice. Going boom on the ice can mean sprains, breaks, and injury. If you are not wearing chain or metal on your boots, you will eventually fall. When ice has a little water on top, it is slicker than just plain ice. If you have an injured angler, the ice sled can serve as a transport to get them to the truck. I find that a ski pole is also helpful in preventing slips and injury or helping injured anglers off the ice.
Bleeding on the Ice. Cuts and bloody noses are a common injury. I have attended several anglers that cut themselves on the sharp auger blades. They lay the auger down and kick or slide into it. That’s why you auger the sharp end into the ice just enough to hold it up. Bloody noses seem to happen when the angler falls face first. Carry some band aids and First Aid gear along.
The best and smartest way to deal with accidents on the ice is to avoid them. Anticipate and know the risks. Be a genius and take your time. Be safer by being smarter.
No fish is worth dying over!