Safe ice is the number one consideration. A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water. The guidelines presented here are based on clear, blue, hard ice on non-running waters. Remember, your own good judgement is essential!
The American Pulpwood Association has developed a table for judging the relative safety of ice on lakes and streams. This is just a guide; use your own good judgement before going out on any ice. Avoid areas of moving water, including where streams enter the lake, and around spillways and dams.
Note: This guide is based on clear, blue, hard ice on non-running waters. Slush ice is about 50 percent weaker. Clear, blue ice over running water is about 20 percent weaker. Many ice anglers do not like to fish on less than five inches of ice, and do not like to drive a pick-up truck on less than 15 inches of ice. Use common sense!
Be cautious in areas where “bubblers” are used to protect docks. They can produce thin, unsafe ice some distance away. Be especially alert in areas near shore, over moving bodies of water and on lakes and ponds where streams enter or exit.
Remember, use the buddy system while ice fishing – it saves lives.