The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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February 3, 2014

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Stay safe on the ice

The extreme cold that has gripped Ohio during the month of January has kept some folks inside, but anglers are beginning to reap the rewards of this frigid weather.

Many of Ohio’s lakes, including Lake Erie, are frozen over and are providing ice-fishing opportunities that had been missing in recent winters.

While ice fishing is a great way to take advantage of Ohio’s countless fishing opportunities, it is important to remember a number of safety tips before you head out onto the ice.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and its emergency response partners advise that extreme care be taken anytime while out on the ice, especially on Lake Erie. No ice is ever completely safe, and any ice that is covered by snow should always be presumed to be unsafe.

Ice seldom forms at a uniform rate, which is especially true on large bodies of water such as the Lake Erie. ODNR recommends that any person heading out onto the ice should follow these safety tips. Additional safety tips can be found online at ohiodnr.gov.

Ice-fishing safety tips

n Contact a local ice guide or bait shop to ask about ice conditions.

n Adequately check the ice thickness before traveling onto the ice.

n Dress properly for conditions, which should include wearing an approved life vest.

n Carry a fully charged cell phone in a protective cover.

Ice-fishing basics

n No ice is safe ice. Ice thickness varies across a lake. Ice near the shore tends to be much weaker because of shifting, expansion and heat from sunlight reflecting through the ice.

n Avoid areas where there is water flow beneath the ice and where in-water obstructions (i.e. bridges pilings, docks and dam structures) may be present since ice is usually thinner around these objects.

n Always fish with a partner or in an area where several other anglers are present.

n Let others know exactly where you are going and when you plan to return.

n Place a cell phone in a plastic bag to protect it from moisture so it does not get wet.

n Always take along a throw cushion or wear a personal flotation device in case of immersion.

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