ice fishing safety reminder

With the late start to ice fishing season, the Ontario Conservation Officers Association (OCOA) is urging anglers to use caution when heading out this winter.

“Warm temperatures have caused many lakes to freeze slowly or not at all in many parts of southern and Central Ontario,” OCOA President Derek Hebner said in a Jan. 23 press release. “The lack of ice, coupled with heavy snowfall, has caused many lakes to have excessive slush. This snow fall and slush will slow further ice formation and cause travelling on the ice to become very difficult until colder temperatures arrive.”

Hebner encouraged anglers who are planning a fishing excursion to check the ice conditions often, plan ahead and be prepared. “By following some simple safety measures, it could save your life or the life of someone else.”

Ice safety tips

  • Check ice thickness and conditions frequently
  • Clear ice should be a minimum of 10 cm (4”) for walking and ice fishing, 12 cm (5”) for one snowmobile or ATV, 20-30 cm (8-12”) for a car or small pickup, 30-38 cm (12-15”) for a medium truck (source: Lifesaving Society)
  • Fish with a buddy
  • Be prepared for an emergency – wear ice picks or a floater/survival suit, and have a whistle and cell phone on hand
  • Let someone know where you will be and when you plan to return. This should include where your vehicle will be parked, what route you plan to take and any stops you plan to make
  • Stay off rivers and away from locks, where ice is less stable. Ice conditions in areas of moving water or spring fed lakes can be unsafe at any time, ensure the ice is safe before venturing out.

“For many anglers, ice fishing can be the highlight of their fishing year,” Hebner said. “But if the ice conditions are not safe, we suggest holding off on heading out until ice conditions improve. We wish all Ontarian’s a safe winter season.”

Anglers are reminded to review the 2024 Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary, available online here and at Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) offices. Anyone with information about a natural resources or public safety related offence is encouraged to call the MNRF violation reporting line at 1-877-847-7667, their local Conservation Officer, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).