It’s no secret that Geist Lake is a great place to go fishing, but did you know it’s also a great place for ice fishing? 

While ice fishing is a fun outdoor activity that many Geist residents participate in, we want to remind our community of the precautions that should be taken to ensure participants stay safe.

Before heading out on the ice this winter, take the time to review the following safety tips from Geist Reservoir Conservancy District: 

Follow Ice Thickness Guidelines

It’s important to remember that ice is never 100% safe. Ice thickness can change very quickly, and it seldomly freezes uniformly. So while it could be a foot or more thick in one location, it could be only an inch or two thick a few feet away.

Our intuition tells us that thin ice can be hazardous—that’s simple logic. But did you know that white ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new, clear ice? Many factors go into ensuring you stay safe out on a frozen-over lake. Use your best judgment and keep the following ice thickness recommendations in mind to maximize fishing safety on new, clear solid ice:

  • 2″ or less: STAY OFF
  • 4″: Safe for ice fishing or other activities on foot

Have the Right Gear

To ensure you stay safe out on the ice, there are certain items you should make sure accompany you on your excursion. 

For starters, don’t step foot out on the ice without a proper life vest or flotation suit. While you may think, “it’ll never happen to me,”—falling through the ice, even as a strong swimmer, can be extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening. A life vest or flotation suit will make it much easier to escape the frigid water in an instance where you have fallen through the ice.

You’ll also want to have an ice chisel, ice auger, or even a cordless 1/4 inch drill with a long bit to test the thickness of the ice before venturing out onto the frozen lake. It’s recommended to always bring along a pair of ice picks or “rescue claws” as well. You’d be surprised how difficult it can be to pull yourself back onto the surface of wet and slippery ice while wearing heavy winter clothing. Ice picks are vital ice fishing safety tools for pulling yourself back onto solid ice. Don’t skimp on this life-saving gear!

Think Ahead

While loads of people go ice fishing every season without any problems, it’s better to be safe than sorry! We’ve already discussed how to stay safe when it comes to ice thickness and gearing up, so here are some extra precautionary tips to remember as you plan your next ice fishing adventure:

  • Check with locals: If you’re new to ice fishing at Geist Lake, check-in with local ice fishing veterans before making any plans. They may be able to help give you information pertinent to the lake, like ice thickness, water movement, or the best places to fish.
  • Bring a companion: If you plan to go ice fishing, it’s always better to bring a companion. This offers an extra layer of safety and an extra pair of hands in case something goes wrong.
  • Share your fishing plans: No matter if you plan to go solo or with a companion, make sure you let someone else—whether it’s family, friends, or neighbors—in on your ice fishing plans. Let them know when you arrive, the location of your fishing spot, and when you plan to get home.
  • Leave before dark: Trying to find your way off the ice in the dark is a daring endeavor. For your safety, make sure you get off the ice while it’s still light out and you can easily see your surroundings. 

Stay safe out there! And happy fishing!