Fishermen emphasize ice safety - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fishermen emphasize ice safety

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

When the weather gets cold, fisherman Owen Boge heads out on to the ice. But before he gets too far, he checks the thickness first.

"Just drill a couple holes when you're closer to the bank," Boge said. "You're pretty much good if there's over two to three inches."

He uses his auger, a hand-cranked corkscrew tool for drilling through the ice. But if it's less than four inches thick, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says it's not safe for ice fishing. According to the DNR, you need five inches for snowmobiles, and about 12 inches for cars and trucks.

They say no ice is 100% safe.

"I've been through the ice twice," said Jaime Kujawa, who has been ice fishing for more than 20 years. "First time you go through is the scariest. It's an instant panic and instant shock to your body."

In case you do go through, the DNR recommends you bring ice picks, rope, and something that floats.

For Kujawa, ice safety is really about common sense.

"Just use your head out there, be safe," he said. "If you can, take a buddy with you when you're out on the ice. If you see anything awkward or abnormal -- don't check it out, try to stay away from it."

Boge said the same thing: if the ice doesn't look right, don't risk it.

"If you can't throw a big rock on it ... if it goes through, I don't think it's going to hold you," he said.

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