CHEYENNE - Ice anglers should expect a good fishing season on Wyoming lakes and reservoirsthis winter. But, along with the good fishing, anglers are advised to use caution while on the ice.
Ice conditions often fluctuate throughout the winter months as water levels in lakes and reservoirs change, and freezing and thawing weather patterns come and go and can contribute to unstable ice conditions.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department advises anglers to check the thickness of any ice before venturing out onto it, and continue checking it every 100 to 150 feet. Four inches of clear ice is usually safe for fishing on foot. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or white ice, which has frozen, thawed, and refrozen and is not always stable. White ice can also be from air bubbles or frozen snow and is much weaker than clear ice. For white ice, double the recommended thickness.
While the ice on rivers may appear safe, the Game and Fish Department warns everyone to steer clear of it. Water flowing under the ice can change conditions rapidly. The Game and Fish recommends anglers stay off rivers altogether. Wind is also a huge factor with ice safety and can determine how solidly the ice freezes and how long it stays frozen. An afternoon of warm, Chinook winds can deteriorate ice conditions rapidly. It is not unusual for ice to be safe one day and in poor shape the next day after a windy period.
Ice anglers should never go out on the ice alone. The buddy system is critical. Having a friend along is an added safety precaution as someone is there to assist in the event of an accident. Other safety precautions include wearing a life jacket and carrying a flotation device on a rope that can easily be thrown, as well as some sort of ice pick. This can be as simple as a lanyard with some spikes attached that will allow you to grab the ice if you fall in.
Low water temperatures can be life threatening this time of year and hypothermia is a serious risk for anyone who does fall through the ice. Ice anglers should learn to recognize and to treat hypothermia and should always have dry clothing and hot liquids close at hand.
The Game and Fish also recommends against driving vehicles or ATVs onto the ice. Every year there are instances of vehicles going through the ice and the Game and Fish advises to not take the chance.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)