Early ice can offer the hard water angler some of the best fishing of the year, but can also be quite dangerous. Understanding the body of water you will fish and how to test the ice are the most vital tools used on early ice.
Of all the outdoor sports I've been involved in, ice fishing is likely the most dangerous. On the other hand, it also happens to be my favorite. Being over eager to get out early or to stay on late ice is typically the reason people go through. Knowing how to avoid and to test for thin ice is of utmost importance to the ice angler. Understanding the body of water you will fish can have an impact on the safety and success of the trip. Research new bodies of water first, then head out for some safe winter fun.
Many anglers choose to avoid ice all together because of its inherent danger. Rapid changes in weather, like this past week, can weaken what was safe ice within just a few days. Without the understanding of how to check ice and what safe ice is, these people are making the right decision, and staying off. I may have begun to sound like a broken record, but a yearly column on ice safety will surely make its way in upon completion of deer season. If the information provided prevents a single death over time, I hope the experts out there can accept the redundancy.