Ice fishing season is here

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From the VT Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Ice Fishing safety tips

The recent arrival of cold temperature has formed early-season ice on Vermont ponds, lakes and rivers. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department reminds winter enthusiasts that ice should never be considered safe and ice conditions vary.

"We are urging all outdoor enthusiasts - people going ice fishing, cross-country skiers, hikers, and snowmobilers -- to be extremely cautious and prepared if they are going to venture out on any ice," said Vermont Fish & Wildlife's Chief Game Warden Jason Batchelder. "Ice conditions can vary dramatically on different parts of a lake. Remember, even though it may look thick enough on the surface, moving water from currents, rivers and springs can cause ice to form unevenly."

"Once we have sustained cold weather to form good ice, activities such as ice fishing can be safe and a lot of fun," said Batchelder, "but when we go onto the ice, we need to use good judgment and observe several safety precautions."

- Leave your car or truck on shore. Every year several motor vehicles go through the ice on Vermont lakes, and some people have drowned as a result.

- Leave information about your plans with someone, including where you intend to fish and when you expect to return.

- Wear a personal flotation device and don't fish alone.

- Fish with a friend. Ice fishing is a great sport to share with family members and friends, and having a partner with you increases both the fun and the safety.

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Ice varies in thickness and condition. Always carry an ice spud or chisel to check ice as you proceed. Be extremely cautious crossing ice near river mouths, points of land, bridges, islands, and over reefs and springs. Currents almost always causes ice to be thinner over these areas. Avoid going onto the ice if it has melted away from the shore. This indicates melting is underway, and ice can shift position as wind direction changes. Waves from open water can quickly break up large areas of ice. If you can see open water in the lake and the wind picks up, get off!

Bring your fully-charged cell phone with you. Carry a set of hand spikes to help you work your way out onto the surface of the ice if you go through. Holding one in each hand, you can alternately punch them into the ice and pull yourself up and out. You can make these at home, using large nails, or you can purchase them at stores that sell fishing supplies. Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone who has gone through the ice. Heated fishing shanties must have good ventilation to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Open a window or the door part way to allow in fresh air.

Ice Fishing Clinics

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Learning how to participate in an outdoor activity can be challenging, and ice fishing is a good example. Knowing this, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has scheduled a series of ice fishing clinics for first-timers and those who would like to learn more about hard water fishing.

"Our ice fishing clinics will be held from mid-January to mid-February with the possibility that some dates may change according to ice and weather conditions," said Fish & Wildlife Education Specialist Corey Hart. "Everyone is welcome no matter their experience level. We want this to be fun and helpful for all."

The Basic Ice fishing courses will teach beginners all the skills they need to know to be successful and safe while ice fishing. The Introductory courses will review the basics while focusing on teaching anglers the skills they need to target a specific species.

Each clinic will last two and a half to three hours, and exact location details will be given when people register for the event. Topics to be covered include ice safety, hole drilling, equipment and techniques, regulations and different techniques for different fish.

All participants will have the opportunity to practice what they have learned near the end of each event. Everyone is urged to wear clothing suitable for the weather conditions.

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Pre-registration is required by contacting Corey Hart at or 802-265-2279.

Vermont Fish &Wildlife's Ice Fishing Clinics for 2018:

- Jan. 16, 10 a.m. Introduction to Walleye Fishing at Lake Carmi

- Feb. 1, 10 a.m. Basic Ice Fishing Clinic at Shelburne pond

- Feb. 3, 10 a.m. Introduction to Walleye Fishing at Chittenden Reservoir

- Feb. 8, 2 p.m. Basic Ice Fishing Clinic at Lake Bomoseen

- Feb. 15, 4 p.m. Introduction to Smelting at Waterbury Reservoir

For questions on ice fishing or ice conditions, contact Vermont State Game Warden via your closest state police barracks or by calling Vermont Fish & Wildlife Headquarters at 802-828-1529.


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