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Stay safe on the ice

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The Ministry of Natural Resources is reminding anglers to check local ice conditions before heading out to fish.

Ice conditions can be deceptive and variable.

Here are some things to remember:

•Ice does not freeze at a uniform thickness across most lakes and rivers.

This can be particularly evident at the start of the winter season, when near-shore ice often is much thicker and safer than ice further out.

Check thickness regularly with a spud bar or auger as you move further out on the ice.

•Not all ice is created equal.

Ice that has formed over flowing water, springs, pressure cracks, old ice holes, or around the mouths of rivers and streams can be weaker than surrounding ice.

•Clear blue ice is the strongest.

White or opaque ice is much weaker. Ice that has a honeycombed look, common during thaws or in the spring, should be avoided altogether.

•Travelling on frozen lakes or rivers with snowmobiles or vehicles can be particularly dangerous, and added precautions must be taken.

At least 20 cm (eight inches) of clear blue ice is required for snowmobiles and 30 cm (12 inches) or more is needed for most light vehicles.

This thickness should be doubled if the ice is white or opaque.

•Heavy snow on a frozen lake or river can insulate the ice below and slow down the freezing process.

Before venturing out:

•register your ice hut, where required (there is no ice hut registration in Northwestern Ontario except for Lake Superior Zone 9 in the Thunder Bay and Nipigon districts);

•check the Fishing Regulations Summary or contact your local MNR office for registration requirements;

•check ice conditions with local ice hut operators; and

•let others know where you’re planning to fish and when you plan to return.

•appropriate clothing and equipment are critical to safety and comfort (many anglers wear floater suits and carry a set of ice picks).

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