While some local waterways may appear ready for ice fishing, Walter Dietz, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Regional Outreach & Education Coordinator, Sweet Valley, advises anglers to insure they test the ice along the shorelines and along the way as they head out to their fishing spot.
Some of the waterways have early ice on them. I've even seen anglers on a few waterways; however it's a bit scary in my opinion. We've had a few days of really cold air temps, but thicker ice has not had a lot of time to form, said Dietz. Plus there may be a heavy blanket of snow over ice that is insulating it and keeping it from forming thicker ice.
Ice conditions will vary depending on where you live; according to Dietz. Waterways up in Wayne and Susquehanna County may be starting to get decent ice, while those down here in Luzerne and Columbia County have only thin ice.
For ice safety information, refer to the PA Fish and Boat Commission's Ice Safety Tips for Anglers, or visit Ice Safety Page: fishandboat.com/safety.htm; Ice Safety Thickness Chart: fishandboat.com/water/ice_thickness.pdf; and Ice PLAY Newsletter: fishandboat.com/anglerboater/play/2011play/01winter2011play.htm.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission reminded anglers of the dangers of ice fishing and offers the following safety precautions. For more information regarding ice safety, visit fishandboat.com/safety.htm.
* When arriving at the water's edge, anglers should visually survey the ice. Look for open water areas, and look for signs of recent changes in water levels. Ice sloping down from the bank because the water level dropped, or wet areas on the ice because the water level rose, can be an indicator of a very dangerous condition.
* Listen for loud cracks or booms coming from the ice. This can indicate deteriorating ice.
* Look for clear blue ice. New ice is stronger than old ice and usually has a blue tint.
* Remember that ice thickness is not consistent.
* Beware of ice around partially submerged objects such as trees, brush, embankments or structures. Ice will not form as quickly where water is shallow or where objects may absorb sunlight.
* A lifejacket or float coat should be worn at all times while on the ice.
* Anglers should use an ice staff to probe ahead of them. If the ice staff punches through then the anglers should retreat back to shore slowly.
* Anglers should always carry a pair of ice awls in the case that they do go through the ice so they can self-rescue.
* Anglers should never go out on ice that has formed over moving water such as a river or stream.
* Anglers should never go out on ice alone.
* Anglers should always let someone know plans and expected return.