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Anglers Reminded to Follow Safety Precautions when Ice Fishing
January 13, 2011
Harrisburg, PA – Now that cold weather is here and anglers are gearing up to head to frozen lakes and ponds, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) reminds them of the dangers of ice and urges them to follow basic safety precautions before heading out to their favorite ice fishing spots.

“Before going onto a frozen lake or pond, it is important to take safety precautions to reduce the risk of falling through the ice,” said Ryan Walt, PFBC Boating and Watercraft Safety Manager. “Remember, anglers take a risk any time they go onto the ice. Knowing how to judge ice conditions will help them make more informed decisions while enjoying their outing.”

Below are safety precautions and tips that anglers should keep in mind:

  • When arriving at the water's edge, visually survey the ice. Look for open water areas, and look for signs of recent changes in water levels. Ice sloping down from the bank because the water level dropped, or wet areas on the ice because the water level rose, can be an indicator of a very dangerous condition.
  • Listen for loud cracks or booms coming from the ice. This can indicate deteriorating ice.
  • Look for clear blue ice. New ice is stronger than old ice and usually has a blue tint.
  • Remember that ice thickness is not consistent.
  • Beware of ice around partially submerged objects such as trees, brush, embankments or structures. Ice will not form as quickly where water is shallow or where objects may absorb sunlight.
  • A lifejacket or float coat should be worn at all times while on the ice.
  • Anglers should use an ice staff to probe ahead of them. If the ice staff punches through then the angler should retreat back to shore slowly.
  • Anglers should always carry a pair of ice awls – handheld spikes - in the case they do go through the ice so they can self-rescue. Anglers drive the spikes into the ice and pull themselves from the water.
  • Never go out on ice that has formed over moving water such as a river or stream.
  • Never go out on ice alone.
  • Always let someone know your plans and when you expect to return.

For more information on ice safety, visit the Commission’s water and ice safety webpage:

The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at

Eric Levis

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