It is the time of year when the ice on Montana's lakes and reservoirs tempts winter anglers to try their hand at ice fishing. But when it comes to ice, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials say it pays to be cautious.
Even as ice firms up, it tends to melt as temperatures fluctuate. That means ice that was safe one day can put you in danger the next.
Whatever the weather, it’s best to test ice before venturing onto it. The ice’s thickness depends on currents, inflows from streams, water depth, underwater springs and stumps or other features protruding through the ice, and daily temperatures. Slight changes in any one factor can significantly affect ice conditions from day to day.
The best method to determine the thickness of ice is with an ice spud.
Remember: you put yourself at risk if you trust that the ice is solid because others have used it recently. When you test the ice yourself, you know it is safe.