ILLINOIS (IRN) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is urging residents to keep safety in mind when ice fishing this season
Anglers should be aware of the potential dangers and plan accordingly, said Ed Cross, a spokesman for the department.
“Obviously, the biggest and foremost danger when it comes to ice fishing is falling through,” he said. “The thinner the ice, the more likely that you could fall through.”
Falling through the ice can cause hypothermia or death, Cross said.
“Once you’re through, some of the dangers include hypothermia. Sometimes with a fall, almost instantly the first reaction is to gasp for air even when you are underwater. Sometimes when that happens the harder it is for you to recover and you actually end up drowning.”
Keeping warm is key, Cross said.
“You want to dress for the conditions. Even if you don’t fall through the ice, you can succumb to hypothermia if you are not wearing the proper clothing,” he said.
Cross also recommends that ice fishers tell someone they are going out and how long they will be out as a precaution.
“Leave a note or tell someone you have gone out, how long you plan to be out and where you are going to be,” he said. “That way, if for whatever reason you don’t return at the set time or someone doesn’t see or hear from you, then they can kind of get an idea of where you may or may not be and start the help or recovery process at that point.”
Ice should be at least 4-inches thick to support ice fishing. Local bait shops usually know where its safe to fish, but anglers are advised to check the thickness on their own as well.
“Ice fishing can vary year-to-year, especially here in Illinois. You know this year we really haven’t had any cold temperatures to produce thick ice, so some folks who think that it’s frozen enough may be in for a shock when they get out there.”
Information on ice fishing in the state is available at ifishillinois.org.