Ice Safety
Inside the Outdoors, January 13,
2017

Before I get on the subject of ice thickness and safety while fishing this winter, I was told an amusing story that I thought I’d pass on to you.

It so happened that this local hunter had spent days erecting camera on trees where he thought deer may roam. After checking them daily, he found none had crossed by the instruments’ lenses. This occurred for three days.

Since he had harvested deer in that area anyway in the past years, he figured they had to be in the proximity. So, he set up his tree stand near his cameras in hope that one of these white-tailed animals would wander into the area and he would have his kill for the season.

Each of several days nothing resulted.

Then while he and his were sitting in their living one evening, it so happened that his wife motioned to her husband to come and look out the window in the back yard. Lo and behold, what did they see? A whole herd of deer were bedding down for the night in their back yard.

But if you think that beats all, the fellow noted that each time they pulled into their driveway at night, they saw all their deer heads pop up in the backyard as the eyes reflected light from the headlamps of the car and then lay their heads back on the ground.

“Well, at least our back yard will be well fertilized!” he said.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While reading the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) recent magazine, the Pennsylvania Angler and Boater, January/February 2017, it featured a chart that I thought would be of interest to readers concerning ice safety thickness and what units could be put of the surface and still be safe.

For example, if the ice on lakes is one inch thick, it is deemed unsafe. At three inches, one cross-country skier can traverse across the frozen crystals. When I went fishing out on the ice, I ventured out on the PFBC’s advisable thickness of the ice, four inches. That’s safe for one two hundred pound person with fishing gear. A matter of fact, several of us were in same area and the thickness was good for the activities of ice fishing.

At five inches, a snowmobile can safely make its way across the ice. The estimate weight of this machine, according to the PFBC, is eight hundred pounds. At six inches one can safely ice boat, not that many of any people do that around here. Group activities will know that they are safe when they do what the have to do on seven-inch thickness of the ice.

Motorists make sure the ice is eight inches before driving a car across the surface. That means the surface must hold two thousand pounds. If several snowmobile operators wish to speed across a lake, make sure the ice is nine inches or better.

The thickness for truck traveling must be at least eleven inches if not thicker. Don’t take chances. I have heard that years ago, there was a snowmobile at the bottom of Keystone State Park Lake. With the water basin’s dredging a number of years ago, I’m sure it was removed.

If the surface is not frozen and anglers wish to take to the water in their boats, it is a law that “Boaters are required to wear a life jacket on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak during the cold weather months from Nov. 1 through April 30,” the PFBC said.


- Paul J. Volkmann
Contact me by email

To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-1951.