Ah, ice fishing season. For many of us, it's the most wonderful time of the year. But before you grab your gear and head out onto the frozen lake, it's important to know when ice fishing season starts and ends. After all, you don't want to find yourself in the drink because you went too early. Here's everything you need to know about when ice fishing season begins and ends.
Ice Fishing Season Start Date
The start date for ice fishing season varies depending on where you live. In general, however, ice fishing season begins around late November or early December. That said, it's always best to check with your local fish and wildlife department to find out the exact start date for ice fishing season in your area.
Of course it depends on the weather, a mild fall will push the start date out because the ice won't be thick enough to fish safely.
Ice Fishing Season End Date
Just like the start date, the end date for ice fishing season also depends on where you live. In general, however, ice fishing season comes to an end in late February or early March. Again, it's always best to check with your local fish and wildlife department for the most accurate information.
When is Ice Thick Enough to Fish On?
This is a question that gets asked a lot. And unfortunately, there is no easy answer. The thickness of the ice can vary greatly from one body of water to another. That said, as a general rule of thumb, most experts recommend waiting until the ice is at least 4 inches thick before venturing out onto it.
Of course, 4 inches is just a guideline. If you're uncertain about the thickness of the ice, your best bet is to err on the side of caution and wait until it's even thicker—6 inches or more—before setting foot on it.
When is Ice Thick Enough to Fish On?
The thickness of the ice needed to hold a person, a car, and a fish house varies depending on the weight of the objects. For example, a person weighing 140 pounds would need about 2 inches of ice to support them, whereas a car weighing 3,000 pounds would need around 12-15 inches of ice.
As for a fish house, the thickness of the ice needed depends on the size and weight of the house. A small, lightweight fish house, like this portable model from Clam Outdoors, would need around 4-6 inches of ice, whereas a larger, heavier fish house would need 8-12 inches of ice.
Ultimately, it's always best to err on the side of caution and wait for thicker ice before venturing out onto the frozen lake. Every year, someone goes through because they either went out too early, or they went out too late. Use the rule of starting to ice fish one month after the earlybirds start, and then to stop, or get your house off the ice one month before it's recommended.
When venturing out onto the frozen lake for ice fishing, it's important to wear the proper safety gear. Something like the StrikerIce Predator Bib is a must if you're in deep water. These can be life savers, and Striker says that their bibs have saved a number of lives over the years. Their bibs give you up to 2 hours of buoyancy in the case of emergency. Not to mention, they're extremely warm, and their insulation alone may save your life.
And don't forget a durable test stick that you can use to poke the ice to make sure it's thick enough. You don't want to test the ice in deeper water with your foot.
Ice Fishing Safety - The Last "Jig"
Ice fishing can be a fun winter activity. There's nothing like a sunny day on the ice with a good mess of walleye, perch or panfish ready to take home. The key is just to be safe.
Unfortunately every year it happens that there's an accident. Remember a good set of boots, a good set of flotation insulated bibs and your poke stick to test the ice as you walk. Safety is always first.
Cheers to the (cold) outdoors,