How Cold is too Cold to go Ice Fishing ?

Ice Fishing is a cold weather activity. People go out when the water bodies are frozen and cut holes in the ice to fish. It is a unique opportunity for you to get the best fish that nature has to offer. At times the weather drops below the normal cold and strong winds spoil the opportunity for an ice fishing adventure. You may then wonder how cold is too cold to go ice fishing.

As a general rule, when the temperatures are minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, it is considered unsafe to go out ice fishing. People should avoid going out or spend time outside catching fish. Otherwise, you may get frostbite or hypothermia – the two most dreaded outcomes of cold weather. It is always advisable to check the local weather report before you decide if you should go out ice fishing.

You must check the weather conditions before you go out ice fishing. If it is too cold or there are indications of cold winds, defer or cancel your ice fishing trip. It is better late than never. Ice fishing, though fun, can also turn dangerous if you don’t consult the local weatherman. If you are new to ice fishing or want to know when to decide against it, this article is for you. Read on to find out the details about ice fishing and the associated weather related risks with it.

Weather and ice fishing


Ice fishing takes place in cold climatic conditions. It is a gift to have sunny conditions while you are out on an ice fishing trip. If there are no winds and bright conditions, it is the best time to go out ice fishing. You are sure to enjoy the trip with your friends and have a good catch as well. At the same time, if the sun is covered with clouds or if there is a blizzard-like condition, you will do better to reconsider your ice fishing decision.

The climate does play an important role in ice fishing. If it is windy or gloomy outside, check the local weather forecasts. Bad weather ahead means no ice fishing. It is not good for you. Several people have been irreparably affected by cold climatic conditions during ice fishing. Severe cold weather leads to two problems – frostbite and hypothermia.

If you are on an ice fishing trip and see the weather going bad, either cancel the rest of the trip or take shelter. If you can go back to your rest house or motel, do so. Or wait out the bad conditions. Usually, it is the wind more than the absence of sun that causes the pain. Do not take chances if you find a drop in the weather conditions – unless you want to pay a high price against your well-being. Your age and health conditions play a critical role in this decision.

Frostbite and Hypothermia – the main concerns of extremely cold weather during ice fishing

You would be wondering what is wrong with ice fishing in extreme weather. Well, the two main concerns are getting a Frostbite or Hypothermia. Let’s understand each one of them.


Frost Bite


Frostbite is an injury caused by the freezing of skin and its underlying tissues. It leads to skin discoloration and loss of sensation. At times frostbite can be irreparable. It usually takes place at body extremities such as ears, nose, chin, cheeks, fingers, and toes. In extreme cases, frostbite permanently damages the body and leads to amputation.

Though anyone can get frostbite, you stand at a higher risk if you have poor blood circulation or are not wearing adequate warm clothes for ice fishing. You can identify frostbite if you see grayish-yellow or white skin at body extremities. Or your skin feels numbness, stiffness, or a waxy sensation over itself. Usually, due to loss of sensation, a person with frostbite is unable to detect it. In most cases, other people point out frostbite instances.



Hypothermia is a condition where the body temperature drops below normal. This happens when the body loses heat at a faster rate than it can produce. Hypothermia happens when the body is exposed to prolonged stretches of cold conditions. In such cases, the body tries to recover by heating the body through its reserve energy sources.

Hypothermia sets in slowly and is a silent killer. People usually succumb to hypothermia as they don’t know it is setting in. If the body temperature is too low, it affects the functioning of the brain. There are a few symptoms of hypothermia. The main ones are:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech

What to do in case of Frostbite or Hypothermia


You can take the following steps to reverse Frostbite or Hypothermia. Do remember that medical intervention is paramount.

Take shelter

Go behind a wind screen or in an ice fishing shelter. This will reduce the loss of body heat or prevent unnecessary exposure to extremely cold conditions.

Use heaters or electric blankets

To reheat the body, use warm water, heaters, or electric blankets. In extreme conditions, give body to body heat. Remove any wet clothing the victim may be wearing.

Provide warm drinks and high-energy food

Give the victim warm drinks and high-energy food to rehydrate and re-energize him.

Cover the victim with layers of loose warm clothes

Doing so allows air to get trapped within the clothes. This air acts like an insulator and prevents heat loss from the body.

Do not walk on frostbitten toes or feet

Doing so will only aggravate the condition of the affected toe or foot.

Use warm water to reverse frostbite

Soak the affected areas in warm water to reverse frostbite conditions. Do not use very hot water as it may damage the normal body parts.

Use CPR if the victim faints

Administer CPR if the victim losses consciousness. Keep doing so till medical aid arrives or the person regains consciousness. It can mean the very difference between life and death.

To Conclude

We have provided you with a guide on when it is too cold for ice fishing and hope you have found the article informative. Please also read our other articles on ice fishing.

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