Dozens of fish species live in Alaska, including trout, bass and every type of Pacific salmon. This abundance of fish makes Alaska a popular fishing locale for tourists and locals alike. However, Alaska's lakes and rivers quickly freeze over every winter. Don't let the frozen water stop you from catching some of Alaska's aquatic bounty. Try ice fishing so you can fish throughout the year, even in the winter. When ice fishing, it is critical, though, that you take steps to ensure your safety and health.
Cold Weather Protection
The state's average winter temperature is a negative 30 degrees F, though the temperatures typically drop far below this. The wind chill factor can make it feel even colder, increasing the health risks posed by frostbite and hypothermia. Ice anglers should wear multiple layers of warm clothing to trap air close to their body and provide a barrier against the biting cold. The first layer should be close-fitting and made of material designed to wick moisture away from your skin. It is also important to protect extremities such as hands and ears with gloves and hats to guard against frostbite.
Fishing on ice requires the angler to stand on the frozen river or lake for hours on end. Wear thick socks and insulated boots or shoes to protect your feet from such long exposure to the ice. Also consider using shoes with strong grip or cleats to help protect you from slipping on smooth patches of ice.
One of the greatest risks inherent to Alaskan ice fishing is the risk of falling into the frigid water. Test the ice thickness before stepping onto the frozen water by punching a hole near the shore and measuring the ice manually. The ice should be at least 6 inches thick. In general, most waterways in Alaska are safe for ice fishing by the end of November.
Ice Fishing Tents or Shanties
Use an insulated tent or shanty to guard against the cold wind, which can be especially strong on the open surface of a lake. The Alaskan government allows shanties to be set up for up to three days, during which the shanty must display the occupant's name and contact information. If using a gas or propane furnace to heat your shanty, check for adequate ventilation to allow the gas and propane fumes to escape.
Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle
Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.