How Thick Should Ice Be for Safe Ice Fishing?

Ice fishing is a popular sport in many countries, and it requires the ice to be thick enough for the angler to safely stand on it. It is important to know how much ice you need before you head out on the lake.

In general, experts recommend 4 inches (10 cm) of clear, solid ice for most activities such as skating and ice fishing. If you are planning a more extreme activity like snowmobiling or ATV riding, then 5-7 inches (13-18 cm) of ice should be used.

One way to test the thickness of the ice is to use an auger or drill. This is a handy tool that will allow you to take measurements without having to break through the surface of the ice.

You can also use an ice chisel or spud bar if you are not traveling with an auger. These tools can be used to chip away at the surface of the ice and measure its thickness by inserting a ruler into one of the holes created by your chiseling.

Safety Precautions

It is important to always use caution when testing and measuring any type of body of water for safety purposes. Always wear a life jacket if you plan on going out onto any body of water, even if it looks safe and solid. Additionally, avoid areas near inlets, outlets, or narrows where currents may have weakened or eroded away parts of the ice shelf below.

Best Time To Ice Fish

Typically, early winter is considered the best time for safe ice fishing because temperatures have dropped low enough for thick layers of clear solid ice to form across most bodies of water. However, depending on your location and climate conditions, this might vary from year to year.


Overall, it is important for all anglers and outdoor enthusiasts who plan on spending time on frozen bodies of water this winter season to understand how thick their ice should be before they venture out onto it. Generally speaking, experts recommend at least 4 inches (10 cm) – 5-7 inches (13-18 cm) depending on what activity they plan on participating in while they are out there.

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Michael Allen