Keep Safe on the Ice in March

HuntFishMB Contributor: Chris Chorney

Spring is knocking on our door step as the south winds begin blowing in some beautiful temperatures across the province. Some of the best ice fishing can be had this time of year, also known as ‘March Madness’.

Along with having phenomenal fishing and hot bites that can last all day, March can also be one of the most unpredictable times as far as ice conditions and weather goes. Things may not always be as they appear as lakes can change significantly in a matter of a few hours. Crossings you used to get on in the morning may not be safe by mid-afternoon.

A good GPS to mark multiple crossings along the way is, in my opinion, a must have. A few other things I like to carry along with me consist of: a good heavy steel bar to check ridges and cracks before crossing (just because fifteen other trucks crossed ahead of you, doesn’t mean you’re safe to cross); a full tank of fuel; a couple metal shovels; an axe; first aid kit; a good heavy tow rope with a few shackles; extra propane; a fully charged phone; also some extra food and a change of dry cloths can’t hurt either (you never know when it may be your turn to spend an unexpected night on the ice).

Allow yourself a little extra time to pack up and get off the ice before dark. You may think you know the lake like the back of your hand, but I can tell you from personal experience that being enveloped in darkness changes everything. Always check the weather forecast before heading out. A few centimeters of snow may seem like no big deal, but when it’s accompanied by mid-afternoon 50km/hr winds, the resulting whiteout conditions can diminish visibility to less than a truck length. This is when bad situations can arise very quickly.

If you find yourself caught in one of these situations a few of the best things you can do is to stay calm, stay warm, stay put, and wait it out. Make a few phone calls to whom ever need be to let them know you’re alright, send them your coordinates, and let them know your plan. There’s no point running around blind on unpredictable ice which can only lead to a recipe for disaster.

So get out there this March and hammer that hawg of a lifetime, but remember no fish is worth you or anyone else’s personal safety.