Anglers urged to stay safe on ice

As another ice-fishing season is about to get underway, Natural Resources minister Donna Cansfield reminds winter anglers to stay safe on the ice and review the new fishing regulations.
“The key to enjoying this popular winter activity is to play it safe,” said Cansfield. “If you are not sure about ice conditions, do not go out on the ice.”
Anglers should advise others where they plan to fish and when they plan to return. Appropriate clothing and equipment are vital to both safety and comfort.
Many anglers wear floater suits and carry a set of ice picks.
Other important ice facts:
•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.
Anglers should check thickness regularly with a spud bar or auger as they move further out on the ice.
•Ice that formed over flowing water, springs, pressure cracks, old ice holes, or around the mouths of rivers and streams can be weaker than surrounding ice.
•The strongest ice is clear blue in colour. White or opaque ice is much weaker. Ice with a honeycombed look, common during thaws or in the spring, should be avoided.
•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.
Double these amounts if the ice is white or opaque.
•A layer of heavy snow on a frozen lake or river can insulate the ice below and slow down freezing.
Anglers also are reminded to carefully check the new 2008-09 Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary.
A number of changes come into effect on Jan. 1, including a new requirement to register ice-fishing huts in all of southern Ontario, except Lake Huron.
The changes are part of the MNR’s new ecological framework for recreational fisheries management in Ontario.
Through this approach, the ministry is managing fisheries on a zone basis rather than on a lake-by-lake basis.
The 2008-09 Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary is now available from licence issuers, ServiceOntario/Government Information Centres, and on the MNR’s website at