Ice Fishing Safety Reminders

By JOLEEN TADEJ for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

While ice fishing is a popular outdoor sport in Montana this time of year, anglers must be aware of local conditions that can impact the stability of the ice from one day to the next.

For some potentially life-saving ice saftey tips, visit Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ website at; click the Recreation tab, then Snow & Ice under Stay Safe Outdoors.

Here are some safety reminders for ice anglers:

  • Before you leave home, tell someone where you plan to fish and when you plan to return.
  • Go with a friend and walk apart when going to and from fishing spots in case one of you falls through the ice.
  • Wear ice cleats to avoid falls.
  • Test the ice ahead of you with an ice spud bar.
  • Carry a pair of long spikes or commercial ice-fishing picks on a heavy string placed around your neck. If you break through the ice, use the spikes to grip the ice and pull yourself out of the water.
  • Carry a rope to throw to someone who falls through the ice.
  • Don’t leave children unsupervised on the ice.
  • Blue ice is usually hard. Watch out for opaque, gray, dark or porous spots in the ice that could be weak, soft areas. Ice also tends to thin more quickly at the shoreline.
  • Watch for pressure ridges—areas of open water or thin ice where the ice has cracked and heaved.
  • Most unsafe ice usually occurs early and late in the season, when the weather is warmer.

Ice Fishing