Tis the season for anglers to brave the elements and poke holes in "hard water." Ice fishing is probably one of my all time favorite winter sports. Unfortunately for me and others who enjoy ice fishing, the past few winters have been rather mild and not dishing out ideal conditions for getting out on the ice.. It is a delicate time of year for ice fishing, as the new ice is still brittle and the possibility of falling in is higher. The mild temperatures can change ice conditions on a day to day, if not hour to hour basis.

We just recently heard news of a group of ice fisherman breaking through a patch of thin ice on Fort Peck Reservoir. Resulting in the death of one of the ice fisherman.

According to the report

Two UTV's were heading back to the Crooked Creek Marina when they drifted off course and onto unsafe ice. One of the UTV's fell through the ice and one of the occupants was able to escape. The other passenger did not.

Bottom line, if you are going to walk out onto the ice to do some fishing. Be safe and be prepared. Some water can have 10 inches of ice in one spot, and 2 inches in others. Always be aware of the possibility that you may be near thin ice. If the ice looks questionable, bring along a "spudbar" to test the ice in front of you while staying a safe distance from potential thin ice. If you find yourself on some "hard water" this winter, here is a simple way to self rescue if you ever fall through the ice.

7 Items You'll Need To Survive A Missoula Winter