Stay safe on the ice this winter

About this time every year, I get e-mails from folks asking where a person could go ice fishing in Wyoming. The wise-guy in me always has a hard time choking back the most obvious answer.

My first impulse when I get emails asking where to go ice fishing is to state the obvious.

I always want to say, “Try looking for a frozen body of water.”

That wouldn’t be nice, though. I’m sure the writers of the e-mails are looking for something a bit more specific. They want to know what lakes would be most productive. Almost all the reservoirs in the state would work, as long as the ice is thick enough to support you. If you catch fish in the open-water fishing season on a lake or reservoir, chances are good you’ll be able to catch fish on those same lakes in the winter.

The writers might also be asking what lakes or reservoirs have safe ice. Again, the wise-acre in me tries to come through. I want to say, “Walk out on the ice. If you fall through, it’s not safe.”

But that, again, wouldn’t be nice. A much more helpful suggestion would be to suggest sending a fishing buddy out first. Especially if that fishing buddy is an in-law.

No, seriously, there’s really no sure way to tell if the ice is safe. Even a thick sheet of ice can have thin spots. If there’s snow on top of the ice, it could be covering holes other ice anglers have used recently.

Of course, there are some things that will put you more at risk than you need to be. Driving a vehicle out onto the ice is not a good idea. Every year, somebody’s truck has to be pulled out of a body of water because the driver thought the ice was thick enough to support it. The lucky ones get out before they drown or get hypothermia. But their vehicles usually have to stay under the ice until spring.

Be safe while you’re ice fishing this winter. Use your head, and come home safe.