Ice fishing Safety & Comfort
I see guys risking theirlives and trucks all the time out here in Northern Alberta, it's justnot worth it, and it makes me cringe, and for what a few fish. Weeven had a guy post on Ifish Alberta this statement, (I don't knowwhy people park their trucks at the boat launch and walk out onto theice when there are lot's of trucks out there on the ice!
) Wellthe answer to that is simple some of us are not going to risk ourtrucks on ice that is just not thick enough for some of our trucks.The # 1 key to Ice Fishing is SAFETY!! Don't take stupid chances onice you don't know, if you have doubt about the ice stay off of it.The Ice at Calling Lake is 13 inches, at Baptiste it's 12 inches. AtCross Lake (Steele) the Ice is 13 inches, at Lower Chain it's 15inches. The GVWR on my Dodge Ram is 8510 pounds, the AlbertaGovernment Ice thickness recommendation for trucks is 3/4-ton 4x4vehicle with GVWR up to 5,000kg or 11,023 lbs. Ice has to be 38cmminimum or 15 inches thick.I love this truck, no way I would ever risk it on questionable ice.
Proper spacing of vehicleson the ice is a must as well as stationary trucks can cause the iceto sag, don't park close to another truck because that is only goingto sag worse and create a bigger weak spot. Drive on proven pathsthat are safe, if you see loose water on top get out of that area asoverflow on top of the ice can get you stuck very quickly. Also avoidany heaves you see, the ice can be weak in those areas. Also key tothis is the speed at which you drive on the ice, don't go to fast 10kto 20k is plenty fast enough on the ice. Driving to fast on the icecan cause the ice to break up, leaving you stranded out there, andmaking it very unsafe for other anglers whom might be put in danger.Some guys out here have been driving on 9 inches of ice back inDecember, that is just insane and not worth the risk. Good judgmentis a must have, and hey if some people want to laugh at you becauseyour going to employ a little judgment let them laugh. I don't worryabout what others are doing, I try and be as safe as possible outthere. Up here in Northern Alberta if you bust through that ice youhave just minutes to live if your lucky. The water is cold enoughthat if you survive the initial shock and don't breath underwater anddrown your gonna have hypothermia set in in just minutes. BE SAFE,don't take any risks, your there to fish and have fun.Baptiste Lake, Athabasca Alberta Canada.
I have been Ice fishing for19 years, a lot of that done on nice day's as my rule of thumb hasalways been -10 or warmer. There is no way to predict the weather uphere, the wind can get up in just minutes or the temp can drop.Alberta weather is at best unpredictable, so it's best to prepare forall conditions. My good friend Ryan Roth and I have been in a lot ofsituations over the years. Heck just last week the both of us had ashot at a big Brown Trout at Lower Chain and managed to come awayempty handed. We have caught so many fish over the years that wemight have missed one but we still find the humor in it, a couple ofarm punches and a few laughs and we are back to fishing. Now I havebeen outside in the cold most of the time, drilling holes in the icewith a hand auger, a Swedish Bore, yeah add some Asthma, and a ton ofclothes on to keep warm and drill a few holes by hand. Your sweatinglike a pig, out of breath and ready to quit in just minutes. Then siton the old 5 gal pail sift out the ice chips with a strainer and waitfor bites. Before you know it your getting cold, even on a nice dayof say -2 sun's out it's beautiful but then get a bit of a breezegoing and your frozen in minutes. Ryan and I have done it all andbelieve me it don't take much to get cold up here, the wind can goright through you. Even if your wearing a ski suit your hands andface can get very cold, making simple things like tying a knot oradding bait difficult. To be at your best on the ice you have to bewarm and comfortable to enjoy the sport. I have been working ontrying to improve on the comfort thing for years, and I think we haveit good now. So I am going to spell out a few things that can make aday on the ice more comfortable and a lot more fun. If the ice is notthick enough to drive on use a Ski-Doo and sled or just walk on tothe lake and drag your sled out with you. I like the Otter Pro sledsthey are tough as nails and have enough room to add all your gear andthen some. Also they have the hitch accessory to hook up to yourSki-Doo, well built easy to use and extremely handy.Tougher, Stronger, Smarter and made in the U.S.A
Vision, Shelter, Power andHeat, these things are a must to be comfortable outside ice fishing.Some out here in Alberta are traditionalists who think electronicsare for guy's who don't know anything. A portable fish-finder can bevery handy in pinpointing a location + depth to fish and set up yourice shelter. I personally like the Aqua View for ice fishing as thecamera shows what is under the ice, different structure and the like.A little homework at the computer or depth charts to zero in on alocation to start and electronics to pinpoint the exact area to drillholes and set up your shelter will make your day worth the effort.Take a few minutes to probe the area with your camera and find thatsweet spot to set up shop. Once I have my location exact, I set up myshelter, once it's popped up I then drill my holes and move theshelter over the holes. A little snow kicked around the base to keeplight and cold out and your set. There are many shelters to choosefrom, and it depends on what you want to do and personal preference.For me after looking at many different brands, I settled on theEskimo FatFish 949. I chose this shelter because of the quality ofthe material it's made from and second the ease of use. This shelterpops up in just seconds, and has a much wider base than most othershelters. The inside is black and it's giant windows provide plentyof light when needed. The shelter is just as quick to put away as itfolds up and zips into a bag that you can carry like a backpack, veryhandy. Again ease of use, quality, and it's fast to put up and takedown.The Eskimo FatFish 949Ready for fishing.
For augers I have been formany years using a Swede Bore 5" auger, like I said before wayto much work so I went looking for power. I even posed the questionon Facebook to my friends once I had to choose, Jiffy or Eskimo? Wellthe question was answered real quick, Eskimo. So I went and decidedon the Eskimo Z71 in 10" I wanted power and oh yeah I got it,the Z71 does not fool around. I was told by a friend of mine thatthis auger is one of the best money can buy. Ease of use is amazingit starts on one pull, and is still light enough to handle itproperly without hassle. Here in Alberta the ice will be 3 feet thickbefore to long so make sure you get the 12" extension bar.Eskimo Z71 10" Ice Auger, a great machine.
Once set up I get the heaterinto the shelter and light it up and within a minute the shelter iswarm enough to take your coat of and start fishing. I like the MrHeater Portable Buddy, again it's easy to use and good quality. Oneclick and it's going, also if you want to hook it up to a 20lbpropane tank you can do that also, I like the little tanks easy touse and less to pack. Now that your inside and warm and have someholes to fish right over a sweet spot life is good. You can use yourfingers to tie knots and add bait without shivering. Pack out somecoffee and your set, Laura and I also picked up a couple of icefishing chairs from Bass Pro Shops, much more comfortable than a 5galpail. In order to be effective on the ice you must be comfortable, ifyour shivering and cold it's just not as much fun.Mr Heater, this keeps your fingers working.Handy Ice fishing chairs from Bass Pro Shops.
Well this is just gettingthings started, I am going to be out all winter with Team JackfishLures field testing new products and having a blast. I am going toshare more as we go forward, next I am taking you trout fishing. Manyof the lures we use are Jackfish Lures brand, I am going to get intoa lot of products to help you get the most out of the 2013 icefishing season. For now keep warm, and your line tight, 2013 is goingto be a fun ride.Gary Love, #69 Team JackfishLures, WFN Ambassador Athabasca, Alberta.