Ice Thickness Guidelines

When ice fishing, ice thickness is an important part of having a safe fishing experience. Use these ice fishing thickness tips and guidelines to remember when you go ice fishing with family or friends.

Ice Fishing Thickness

If you want to go ice fishing, ice thickness is something you always have to consider ahead of time. Snow cover, temperature changes, underwater springs, and water current can affect safe ice fishing thickness for ice fishing. This means that ice thickness often varies from one spot to the next on a lake.

One of the most important ice fishing tips to remember is to find a trusted local resource that is well-informed about the current ice conditions on the lake where you plan to fish. This local resource could be a tackle shop, ice fishing lodge, ice fishing guide, or state agency.

Testing Ice Thickness

After you get a reliable update on ice conditions, make sure you have some basic tools and safety gear assembled so that you can confirm safe ice thickness when you get to the lake.

  • Ice picks
  • Safety rope (50 to 100 feet)
  • Spud bar, chisel or ice auger
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Cell phone or handheld two-way radio
  • Life jacket

You should also be wearing the proper clothing for a winter fishing trip in cold weather conditions.

Ice Fishing Safety Thickness Guidelines

Once you have the proper tools and safety gear for fishing on the ice, consider these general safe ice fishing, or safe ice thickness guidelines.

  • Stay off of any ice that is 3 inches or less thick.
  • Remember that a minimum of 4 inches of clear, solid ice is a requirement to support an average person's weight. Don't forget that it's' important to check ice thickness using tools such as spud bar, ice auger, and ruler every few steps.
  • Never go fishing on the ice alone. Always bring along a fishing buddy, and let a friend or family member know where you are going.
  • Avoid any ice that is covered by snow or slush.
  • Keep your eyes open for any cracks or changes on the surface of the ice.

In addition to safety tools and gear, you can also learn about different types of electronics that can be helpful for finding fish through the ice.