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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outdoors blog

Winter angler gets chilly reminder about changing ice conditions

Ice fishing is all about location, thick ice, proper gear and determination. (Kathy Plonka)
Ice fishing is all about location, thick ice, proper gear and determination. (Kathy Plonka)

FISHING -- A tip of the frozen cap goes to the ice fisherman who left a note Saturday to alert rescuers that he was OK after breaking through the ice on Lower Twin Lakes.

At about 2 p.m, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Dive Rescue Team was called to the lakes north of Rathdrum for a possible drowning. "The caller said he saw fishing gear out on the ice but nobody near it," the Sheriff's Department reports in a statement.

"Once on scene, deputies found a note written by the fisherman that stated he had fallen through the ice and that he would be back for his gear later. We were able to confirm that the 55-year-old Coeur d’Alene man was okay. The Dive Team retrieved the gear from the ice for the fisherman."

And another tip of the hat to the citizen who recognized and reported the potential problem.

Now, in hindsight, everyone can focus on recognizing the precautions necessary for ice fishing, especially this week as fluctuating temperatures are affecting ice stability in some waterways.

Here are some tips worth reviewing from the Sheriff's deputies before heading out on frozen waters:

  • Leave information about your plans – where you plan to recreate and when you will return.
  • Wear a personal flotation device.
  • Ice varies in condition and thickness. Continually monitor ice thickness as you travel on it.
  • Avoid going out on the ice if it has melted away from the shore.
  • Carry a set of hand spikes to help you work your way out onto the surface if you do fall through.
  • Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone who has gone through the ice.
  • Read the ice before you travel on it. Minimum thickness to walk on the ice is 4-6" (new, clear ice). If the ice is cracked or slushy, stay off!

Also be sure to bone up on Idaho's winter fishing regulations.

Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.

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