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Here you will find Ice Fishing Tips and Links that will take
you to some great ice fishing locations.

REMEMBER: Don't be an ice tester.
"Ice Testers are found in the spring."
Make sure your ice is safe!

Hut Rentals, Fish Pictures, Maps and more!
Irondequoit Bay - Wilson NY - Lake Simcoe and more!
See how to clean a perch in TEN seconds "Costa Style" Video on other page



4 INCHES  One Person ~ Foot Travel

5 INCHES  Getting Better ~ Several People/Snowmobile

8 - 12 INCHES  Car or Small Pickup

12 INCHES  OR MORE ~ Truck [medim size]

Better and printable chart on other ice fishing page [Takes only 1 sheet to print]

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Links at bottom of this page

Lake Simcoe Lake Hut Operators Ice Conditions

Hard Water Anglers Go Here to read what Will Elliott has to say [Updated Weekly]

Go To Ice Fishing Page Two for a listing of Ice Hut Operators and secret tip

Ice Thickness Safety Chart

Make Your Own Ice Grabbers


There are tons of places you can get ice safety tips on the internet and it is great to 
have a good knowledge of those tips. In this article you will have a good 
general idea of what safety is all about without chasing all around the 'net 
for this information. This article gives you a few 
simple rules, carrying some basic equipment and using common sense. 
This advice is framed for ice anglers, but skiers, skaters, 
snowmobilers and ice boaters should follow the same steps.

Always remembers this: 
Be extremely careful, "Ice testers are found in the spring"
Joe Ognibene

PLAN TO FISH AND FISH YOUR PLAN. Before departing for a fishing trip, tell someone the details of your outing. These should include where you intend to fish (the lake name and county) and approximately when you plan to be home. If you decide to stop somewhere after your fishing trip, a simple phone call home is greatly appreciated and notify people that you are off the ice safely.

Bring along a friend to add to your fishing experience and provide extra help in the event of trouble.

When fishing on early or late season ice, always bring an ice bar (ice spud), compass, ice grabbers, and a length of rope at least 20 feet long.

The ice bar is critical because it acts as your ‘eyes’ on the ice as you feel your way on uncertain terrain. Never assume that ice is uniformly thick over an entire lake. By probing your way with an ice bar you can effectively check ice thickness with each step. One good poke with your ice bar will commonly break through to water if the ice is less than three inches thick.

A compass can save you if an unexpected snowstorm or fog causes a whiteout. Take a reading from shore to your fishing spot and write down the back azimuth as well as you can find your way back to shore and avoid un-safe ice.

Ice grabbers are another essential piece of equipment for ice anglers. Sling them around your neck outside your outermost garment so they are readily available. Go here for simple diagram of ice grabbers

Floatation Devices. Ice anglers concerned about safety on suspicious ice should wear flotation devices: a life jacket worn under the normal outdoor gear will keep you warm and may keep you alive in an ice emergency. Flotation coats serve the same purpose by keeping your head above water and aiding your escape.


JUDGING THE ICE Small ponds and protected lakes generally provide the safest conditions during the early ice fishing season because they freeze more quickly than larger bodies of water. Similarly, bays and shallow portions of larger lakes protected from winds freeze first and can provide fishing opportunities before the remainder of the lake is frozen.

It takes steady, cold temperatures to form safe ice. Once the lake is frozen to a minimum thickness of three to four inches, it should be safe for travel by foot. When walking on three inch ice, your fishing partners should spread out. New ice is fairly tough and elastic. Even if it cracks in all directions, it can support an average-sized person.

Take precautions even when you think the ice is thick enough to support you. Many factors above and below the ice can affect its strength and thickness. Avoid river bends and underwater stream currents that flow in and out of lakes, thinning the ice. Points, channels, underwater humps, and any narrow constriction within the lake can cause underwater currents that de- crease ice thickness and strength. Ice forms later and in a thinner layer over springs bubbling into shallow water; such springs are extremely dangerous because they are not easily noticed. Docks, piers, and patches of emergent vegetation, like bulrushes and cattails, can also lessen ice thickness and strength. These dark surfaces absorb heat and transmit it into the ice. This is a more common problem during the spring when the sun is higher and days are longer.

Snow cover acts as an insulator and slows down ice formation. Be cautious when ice is covered with snow early in the season and be suspicious of scattered snow patches on presumably safe ice.

Larger lakes tend to freeze in a progressive manner from the edges towards the center. When venturing out on the larger bodies of water, watch for small ridges that may indicate new ice formation. Ice between the shore to the ri(lge may be safe, but from the ridge to the center the ice may have just formed the night before, and therefore, he un- sale. Always stand nearer to shore and check the ice on the other side of a ridge with your ice bar before continuing towards the center. Later in the sea- son, ice adjoining the shore may he- come unsafe first because land warms it and waves constantly break and re- form lakeshore ice. River ice conditions are often dangerous. Moving water makes ice thick- ness extremely variable and can scour good ice into open water overnight. Moving water under the ice can quickly claim victims as the strong cur- rents hinder one’s ability to get back onto the ice. Stick with traditional ice fishing spots that people have fished for years. These areas have a history of forming good ice. If you want to he adventurous, don’t go it alone.

Large bodies of water, such as Lake Erie or even Lake Simcoe, pose problems usually not encountered on inland lakes. Off shore winds are a real danger to big lake ice anglers. If the ice is not locked in by an island or point, winds have been known to create an ice floe and leave unaware fishers stranded. Because this situation is somewhat common on Lake Erie, experienced anglers pull or push boats set on runners out with then to insure a safe trip.

Due to Lake Erie’s large fetch, lake winds can cause ice heaving that looks similar to pressure ridges on large inland lakes. These areas can be crossed, but search carefully with your ice bar to find a suitable safe spot. Remember that ridges arc weak spots, and a strong offshore wind could cause the ice to separate at this point.


Pack ice is frequently encountered on the Great lakes. It forms when large floating masses of ice cakes blow into a bay or shoreline and freeze together. Pack ice is not as strong as a solid sheet and should be approached with caution. Remember: on big waters, watch the winds and bring a boat. As spring approaches, the warm sun, winds, and above-freezing temperatures can create problems for late season fishers. Areas that took the longest to freeze during first ice are the first to reopen in the spring.

Avoid areas with underwater currents and springs. Similar to those encountered at the docks at Beaver Island State Park, Wilson Harbor, Oak Orchard and many others.  Also, remember that dark surfaces like piers, docks, bridges and emerging vegetation absorb heat and can cause dangerous late season ice conditions.

Once the ice starts to thaw, it deteriorates to a stage known as ‘honey comb ice.” The ice turns black, loses its elasticity and is hazardous regardless of thickness. It should be approached with caution — better yet, avoided.

To prevent a chilly dunking — or worse, know and watch for signs of variable ice thickness on lakes of various sizes and depths. In general, smaller waters freeze first; colder ice is harder ice; new ice is better than old ice; and piers, humps, currents, rocks, snow and emerging plants thin the ice.

Communications with others is always important. Boaters have 2-way radios for communications with others and why not ice fishermen or others venturing out even in a woods?  In the stores today are simple 2-way hand-held radios that are inexpensive and affordable by everyone. They are available in all department stores and sporting goods shops. The distance range is anywhere from 5 to 7 miles. It could save your life or someone else's.

When venturing out on ice, especially during early and late winter, take precautions. Ask bait shops and friends where the ice is safest. Know the waters you fish. Tell someone your fishing plans. Always test the ice first. Carry or wear safety equipment, such as an ice bar, ice grabbers, and a float coat. When fishing on large bodies of water, special equipment is necessary to ensure your safety. Choose your fishing times and places carefully. Fresh fish aren’t worth a person’s life.  


Simple Home made ice grabbers can save your life!
Cut off about six inches from an old broom handle and pound a large nail in one end. Grind the nail to a point. Drill a hole on the other end of the handle to accept a cord that is long enough to run from the end of the handle up your arm, across your shoulders and down the other arm. Thread this through your jacket sleeves and let the ends dangle. If you break through, these devices will let you dig into the ice and pull yourself out. Otherwise, you will not be able to haul yourself out with just your hands on slippery ice. 

REMEMBER: Don't be an ice tester.
"Ice Testers are found in the spring."
Make sure your ice is safe!

By Joe Ognibere

It is certainly true this year that “as the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.” Along with longer daylight hours the frigid temperatures we’ve been having means ice has been forming and forming fast. This doesn’t mean you should rush out and start chopping a hole in the nearest pond to start the ice-fishing season. Wait until you know with absolute certainty that the ice is safe. Then, and only then, is the time to enjoy a pastime that helps the winter pass more quickly. Before you head out on the ice there are a few things you should do to make your excursion more pleasant and a lot less like work. Ice fishing means you are chancing that the thickness of the ice will support your weight and all the gear you haul with you. Your personal safety should the most important thing to consider before you head out.

I have always mentioned a safety device that could save your life if you break through the ice. Once in the water it is next to impossible to haul yourself out. There is nothing to grab onto, just slick ice. Carry this easily made gadget that could save your life. Take an old broom handle or one-inch dowel cut to about 10 inches. Run a pilot hole in one end and then drive a long spike in the hole so it protrudes a couple of inches. Tie a cord on the other end that is long enough to run up your sleeves, across your shoulders and down the other side. Let them dangle while you do your thing. In the event you break through you can use the picks to jam into the ice and haul yourself out. [SEE DIAGRAM ABOVE]

Dressing for a day on the ice means dress in layers. Usually heading out to a favorite spot means you’re going to become warm and you could start sweating. Some of the newer clothing will wick away sweat rather than have it stay on you to chill you later. Wool is an excellent material to wear because it will retain warmth when wet. Be sure your outer jacket is one that is windproof. When the fishing is slow on the ice a gentle breeze can cut right through you if your jacket isn’t windproof. Get cold feet and the day can be miserable which is why you want to be sure to keep your toes warm. Insulated boots and socks are a great help, but nothing beats the chemical, warming pads that are sold in most sporting goods stores. Tuck one in the bottom of your boots and you will have toasty warm toes for about eight hours.

Instead of gloves I think mittens are the way to go. You can put one of those warming pads in a mitten, but not in a glove. Ice fishing means you’re going to get your hands wet and who wants wet hands when out on the ice.

It might sound silly, but carry a compass with you so that in case of a sudden whiteout you can make it back to shore. I became a firm believer in carrying a compass on the ice when I was caught on Lake Erie a mile or so off Crystal Beach the day before the Blizzard of ’77 when whiteouts were common. It’s a scary feeling when the shoreline disappears.

Getting out to your spot means hauling your gear with you on a sled or toboggan. A sled with steel runners is not a good idea. The rough ice will tip it easily. An old wooden, or one of those plastic toboggans that are sold for children, makes an ideal way to haul your stuff. Once on the ice a windbreak is a great idea. There are some lakes in the state where windbreaks or tents are not allowed. Check with the locals to find out. The ideal tent is one that has a hole cut through the bottom so you can fish through the hole you have drilled. Once you have your tent set up now you want to heat it some way. There are many small heaters on the market that use propane as a fuel and will do the job. You’re not trying to heat the whole tent, just warm your hands once in a while. I found the ideal hand warmer was Coleman gas lantern.

Be sure of the ice you’re going out on. 
Don’t forget, ice testers are found in the spring.  


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