The winter season is upon us in Colorado and that means hundreds - maybe thousands of anglers will be hitting the ice for some prime Colorado ice fishing, and here are five critical tips to make sure you stay safe.

Ice fisherman are a special breed. With the temperature dropping below freezing, most of us head for the warm comfort of the indoors. But, ice fisherman not only seem to relish the cold weather but they love being out in it. As far as I'm concerned, that would have to be some mighty fine tasting fish to make it worth it to be out on a frozen lake with frozen hands and chattering teeth.

But, for those that are so inclined to brave the Colorado elements and venture out on to the ice, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has offered some great ice fishing safety tips.

  • 1

    KNOW THE ICE

    • 2 inches or less - STAY OFF!
    • 4 inches is good for walkers
    • If you're on a snowmobile or ATV you need at least 6 inches of good ice
    • For a car or small pickup, you need 8-12 inches
    • If you're driving a medium-sized pick up you will need 12-15 inches of ice
  • 2

    BEWARE OF SNOW

    Ice covered with snow can be deceiving. The snow can actually insulate the ice and keep it from fully freezing. Stay away from cracks, pressure ridges, and slushy or darker areas that may be an indication of thin ice.

  • 3

    SECURE YOUR FOOTING

    Colorado's powdery snow and the wind that often accompanies it is a recipe for extremely slippery conditions. The wind carries the snow off the ice, sort of "polishing" the ice, making a very glassy surface. Slipping and falling is a real danger, so some sort of cleats or crampons are a good idea.

  • 4

    JUST IN CASE

    Heaven forbid you fall through the ice, but it can happen and you need to be prepared. Carrying a couple of picks or spikes attached by nylon cord is a good idea so that if you do fall through you can pick your way out.

  • 5

    TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE

    Lots of guys go ice fishing alone, which is understandable. Finding a buddy that wants to spend a perfectly cold afternoon on the ice can be a challenge. However, the safest option is always to have someone else there with you. If anything should go wrong,  your chances of survival will be much greater if you aren't alone.