ICE Fishing


“Niagara’s Premier Website”

Ice fishing page 1
Page 2

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

REMEMBER: Don’t be an ice tester.

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





One Person ~ Foot Travel


Getting Better ~ Several People/Snowmobile


8 – 12 INCHES
Car or Small Pickup


Truck [medim size]


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

Back to Home

Links at bottom of this page

Lake Simcoe Lake Hut Operators Ice

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.

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

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

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

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.


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
r 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
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
, 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
— 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.

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.

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

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


Go To Other Ice
Fishing Page for a listing of Ice Hut Operators
and more info with pictures


Send us your favorite link! We’ll post it here.



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information and REPORTS from U.S. and Ontario
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Back to Hilts Fish Locator WEEKLY

Go to Bill Hilts Outdoors

Go to Joe Ognibene’s “Outdoor Scene

Go To Will Elliott’s Fishing Line

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