Skip to main content

Be Prepared: Watch Out for River Ice

Be Prepared: Watch Out for River Ice
Ice provides a unique set of solid challenges that must be conquered to ensure a safe day of walleye fishing. (Shutterstock image)

river ice
Ice provides a unique set of solid challenges that must be conquered to ensure a safe day of walleye fishing. (Shutterstock image)

The Boy Scout motto "Be prepared" holds infinite wisdom when fishing any Wisconsin river in March. Or in any state where river ice comes into play.

Boats are designed to move through water in its liquid state. Ice provides a unique set of solid challenges that must be anticipated and conquered to enjoy a safe and productive day of walleye fishing when few — if any — other boaters are around to help you deal with unintended circumstances. 

Before heading out, check river levels for any projected changes and weather conditions for a period extending at least 12 hours after you plan on being off the water. 


Intimate knowledge of the river you are fishing is paramount. Check the river upstream from where you plan on fishing to the first barrier, like a dam, and the ice conditions upstream before you consider launching a boat. 

Removing any appliances that extend below the keel (such as transducers) is a good idea. If you forget, river ice probably will remove it for you. 


There is little difference between hitting rocks and hitting ice with your outboard. Ice chunks are small floating icebergs with 90 percent of their mass beneath the surface and unseen. Take it easy when navigating. No need to race upstream to the fishin' hole. 

Traveling downstream from the boat ramp to fish is never a good idea unless you have confirmed an accessible ramp in that direction. 

Pack a shovel, ice spud, bag of salt/sand, tow chain, come-along, spare propeller, well-stocked tool box, boat hook, 5-gallon bucket, extra anchor and plenty of rope. The ramp you clear may be dry when you launch, but pulling the trailer out when the ambient temperature is below 32 degrees creates an instant glaze of ice. 

Dress in layers and bring extra clothes, especially extra gloves. Always wearing a PFD goes unsaid. Tell somebody about your fishing plans and have their contact info on speed dial. 

Fishing gear needs are limited: two spinning rods, some jigs, rigs and blade baits. Don't forget a camera. There is at least one great photo op in every March walleye trip.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lew

Lew's KVD Rods

As the king of bass fishing says, this new lineup of rods from Lew's—which features the distinctive KVD color scheme—is the most comprehensive lineup of rods ever produced by a single company.

Rapala OG Slim 6

Rapala OG Slim 6

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic champ Ott Defoe sits down with In-Fisherman Associate Publisher Todd Ceisner, to talk about Rapala's new OG Slim 6 crankbait. The OG Slim 6 will feature a flat-sided, balsa body, and will dive around 6 feet. Featuring a circuit board lip, the OG Slim 6 deflects off of cover better than traditional plastic lips. Offered in 14 colors and available in tackle stores Fall 2020. MSRP $10.99.

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

Major League Fishing pros Alton Jones, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi and James Watson share their thoughts on how to approach fishing a new lake for bass.

Engel

Engel's High Viz Drybox Coolers

Versatile boxes available in four sizes; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses.How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You Bows

How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You

Tony Hansen - August 25, 2020

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses.

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing.Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

See More Trending Articles

More Walleye

Walleyes are shallower now than at most other times of the year. Go light and think simple.The Skinny on Shallow Walleyes Walleye

The Skinny on Shallow Walleyes

Matt Straw

Walleyes are shallower now than at most other times of the year. Go light and think simple.

Angler thought walleye, buddy thought sauger. They were both right.What Is It? A Kentucky-Record Saugeye! Records

What Is It? A Kentucky-Record Saugeye!

G&F Online Staff - August 09, 2019

Angler thought walleye, buddy thought sauger. They were both right.

Habitat changes across some of the Midwest's finest walleye waters have negatively affected populations of the iconic species. What can anglers do to help?What's Going On With Walleyes? Walleye

What's Going On With Walleyes?

Scott Mackenthun - June 17, 2020

Habitat changes across some of the Midwest's finest walleye waters have negatively affected...

Lake of the Woods offers fantastic action, from early ice until late in the hardwater season.Hardwater Handbook: Northern Ice Fishing Heats Up Walleye

Hardwater Handbook: Northern Ice Fishing Heats Up

Joel Nelson - January 06, 2020

Lake of the Woods offers fantastic action, from early ice until late in the hardwater season.

See More Walleye

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now