Can You Drink While Ice Fishing in Wisconsin ?

It is a great idea to go ice fishing during the holidays in Wisconsin. You can do ice fishing at Lake Michigan or Lake Superior and get a good catch. These places are a hotspot for fishing activities during the winter season. You may want to have spirits while you wait for a fish to fall for your bait. You may wonder if you can drink while Ice fishing in Wisconsin?


It is illegal to drink while you do ice fishing in Wisconsin. The local police departments are strict about the law and you can be fined if caught drinking while on an ice fishing trip. This law is to avoid people from passing out or falling through the icy surface. As alcohol can lower body temperature, it can even lead to hypothermia in several cases.


It is important to abide by the local laws while doing ice fishing. If you are planning for an ice fishing holiday in Wisconsin, this article is for you. You may need to plan to avoid any spoilers during your fishing vacation. We will bring to you the details of the no-alcohol policy in the state while you are ice fishing. Read on to know all about it.

Ice fishing and spirits

Ice fishing essentially means sub-zero climates. You will be walking over a frozen lake and cutting through the surface below you. There is always a risk of breaking through thin ice and falling into the icy water. This can quickly lead to hypothermia. Thus you need to be alert all the time while you are on the ice.

You need to stay clear of cracked or broken ice. You may also need to keep your balance while walking over the ice. If you slip and fall, you may break a few bones and crack open the ice below you. Or worse still, if you do fall in the water, you will have to be quick and calm enough to get out of it quickly.

If you consume liquor while on an ice fishing trip, you may feel high but have reduced alertness. You can feel wobbly while walking and fail to identify thin ice. In case you fall into the water, you may not be able to recover and get back to the surface. Also, alcohol reduces body temperatures. If you don’t fall in the water, you still stand a chance of reduced body temperatures leading to hypothermia.

Even if you don’t get the above symptoms, you may lose sensation in your limbs. You may stop feeling your hands or feet. This reduces mobility. Or you may get dehydrated due to alcohol consumption. This can in turn impair your capabilities for activities related to working on ice. This in turn can make you sick. If you are returning in the dark, alcohol can reduce your navigational skills.

These are the main reasons you are not allowed to consume alcohol while on ice fishing. The police patrols check for people consuming liquor during ice fishing activities. If you only carry alcohol and don’t drink it while fishing, the police will still discourage you from having it with you.

Penalty for drinking while you are on an ice fishing trip


There are severe penalties for drinking while on an ice fishing trip. You can be charged with an infraction or violation that can be handled by yourself. Or if you are charged with a DUI or assault, you will need a lawyer to help you out. You can be fined heavily – somewhere like $1000 and even lose your fishing license.

If you break the alcohol ban on ice fishing multiple times, your penalty will go up every time. In severe cases, you can even be imprisoned.

Ice safety while on ice fishing


By now you would have understood that alcohol and ice fishing don’t go hand in hand. Alcohol reduces your ice safety. Here are some pointers toward ice safety:

Safe ice

There is nothing called safe ice. You need to be alert and observe for yourself. Usually, uncracked, clear ice is stronger than ice covered with snow. Snow tends to add extra weight to ice making it weaker. Stay clear of old fishing holes cut in the ice. These spots are vulnerable and can have cracks around them.

Find out before you go

It is best to find out about the local ice conditions before you start ice fishing. The local fishing clubs, bait shops, and fishing resorts have the best information on ice conditions. Find out which locations are safe and which ones are off-limits. Avoid lake inlets and outlets as they may have minimum ice coverage.

Don’t go alone

Do not venture out by yourself. Try to go in groups or at least in pairs. If anything happens to you or your group member, others are there to rescue the person in trouble.

Carry essential safety equipment

Always carry a first aid box while on an ice fishing trip. An extra pair of clothes, a blanket, and a portable heating device is a major plus during an accident. A mobile phone or a VHF radio can go a long way in calling in help. If there is a danger of thin ice nearby, carry a life jacket and a rope to pull in a fallen person.

If you do fall on ice

In case you do fall on ice, here are a few tips for you to consider.

Don’t panic

It is important to stay calm and alert if you break through the ice. Don’t remove your winter clothes – they trap air in themselves lending you buoyancy.

Move towards the direction you came from

Try to go in the direction you came in. The ice will be better there and you don’t know the ice quality ahead.

Push yourself on solid ice

Push yourself on solid ice. Your teammates call to help pull you in with a rope.

Don’t stand up yet

Once on solid ice, don’t stand up. Lie down flat and roll away from the ice break. Lying down distributes your weight and reduces your chances of breaking through the ice again.

Warm yourself quickly

Once clear of weak ice, change your clothes and quickly warm yourself up.

To Wrap up

You cannot drink alcohol when ice fishing in Wisconsin as it is against the law. You risk being fined, losing your fishing license or losing your life as it is dangerous.

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