there is too such a thing as safe ice

It’s that time of year, March in northeast Wisconsin, when the annual tradition of ice fishing starts to taper off. As temperatures gradually get warmer, the ice gets thinner and simply melts away for the summer.

So local authorities are issuing their warnings to fishermen. Now, I’ve never been an ice fisherman, but I know people who are, and I know that you have to be real good at gauging ice and knowing whether or not it’s safe. Simply put, you have to be smart about it.

What gets me is the rules of thumb that you hear from authorities. They go way overboard with their suggestions, so much so that it causes people to just not pay attention.

In a recent interview, Lt. Nick Craig with the Green Bay Fire Department suggested, “There’s no such thing as safe ice.”  In another interview, Chris Kratcha, Wisconsin DNR conservation warden, suggested, “assume that there is no safe ice.”

Why do these authorities feel a need to make such ridiculous statements? Can’t they just provide some appropriate tips to help fishermen determine how safe the ice is? What do they expect? That no one will go out on the ice at all?

As a hunter, we have a rule of thumb that says, “treat every gun as if it were loaded.” This is great advice. To be clear, we don’t treat every gun as if it’s not safe, we treat it as if it’s loaded. This rule then leads to some practical tips like where you place your trigger finger, what direction you point the muzzle, etc. This is useful stuff.

So, let’s just be realistic. If these experts want people to listen, they need to provide realistic tips that make practical sense. Making statements like they have does not help keep ice fishermen safe.