Video: Must-Have Ice Fishing Safety Gear

With ice fishing season getting started in the northern United States, it’s time for a reminder about the four most important safety items to carry on every hard-water adventure.

Video: Must-Have Ice Fishing Safety Gear

In the YouTube video below, the host of Limestone Fishing explains his four most important gear items for a safe ice fishing adventure. The No. 1 item on his list is a spud bar, which is used to check ice thickness. Be sure to click on this link for how to properly use a spud bar if you’re not sure.

The other three items on his must-have list include a personal flotation device (life jacket), ice picks and ice cleats. As an avid ice angler myself, I agree with all of these recommendations. If you need one of more of these items before you begin your ice fishing season and need some brand/model recommendations, then here’s the gear I trust:

  • Eskimo One-Piece Chisel. Because I haul everything in the back of my pickup, I chose the Eskimo One-Piece Chisel (spud bar), but the company also offers a handy Two-Piece Chisel. I like its foam grip and wrist tether, and because of its length (59.5 inches) and weight (11 pounds), I can test ice in front of me with a single hard stroke.
  • Old Town Riverstream Personal Flotation Device. I own an Extrasport branded life jacket, but that company has been purchased by Old Town. The Old Town Riverstream looks identical to the one I’ve used for several years. Note: This winter I’ll also be field testing the new Huk Fishing Icon X Superior Jacket, which features Float Technology.
  • Frabill Ice Picks. I like the way the sharp ends are covered by the plastic sleeves that slide up when the picks are in use. As shown in the video, I wrap the lanyard around one shoulder strap of my PFD so I can’t lose the picks.
  • Yaktrax Diamond Grip Ice Cleats. I’ve tried just about every ice cleat made and in my opinion this model from Yaktrax can’t be beat. FYI: On a size 10 Sorel Caribou pac boot, I use the Diamond Grip size XL. When wearing my warmer and bulkier size 10 LaCrosse Iceman pac boot, I wear size 2XL.
The author (right) relies on Yaktrax Diamond Grip cleats (left) when a frozen pond or lake is clear of snow.
The author (right) relies on Yaktrax Diamond Grip cleats (left) when a frozen pond or lake is clear of snow.

Note: Walking on an ice-covered pond or lake involves risk. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends at least 4 inches of new, clear ice for walking. (Click here for the Minnesota DNR’s specific recommendations for ATVs, small vs. large vehicles, etc.) In the video below, the host is walking on about 2 inches of ice. I wait until a lake has 4 inches of ice before walking on it because the thickness isn’t uniform.

Be safe, and good luck this ice fishing season!

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