With the seasons changing quickly and with ice season slowly approaching i thought I’d talk about first ice and doing it it safely. I’m one of those guys that is out on the ice as soon as there’s enough to hold me, I’m talking a couple inches of ice, I’m talking about laying 2x4’s or plywood out just to get on that first ice. One thing I do know is that we get ice further north before Saskatoon area gets it. I usually get on near the end of October if I’m lucky, last year I was on the ice October 24th and hammered the brown trout, I couldn’t keep them off, we only had about 20 minutes to actually fish as it was one of those days that we stopped at the lake after not having much luck at another lake because it was still open water. Smaller lakes will freeze faster than the large lakes, another thing you need to be aware of is algae and weeds, they hold warm spots and make for thin ice. When I first check lakes for safe ice I like to bring a big tow rope or any kind of rope strong enough to pull me, i hold it in one hand or tie it around me, another tip is to look for solid clear black looking ice, this is your safest most solid ice. If the ice is white and has snow or slush mixed in it, it’s not as safe structurally. Before I walk out on the ice I like to take and axe or an ice spud and hit the ice, you can judge the thickness by whether it breaks or if it takes a few hits. Always check directly in front of where you’re walking and test every few feet, ice can change quickly and when you’re only dealt with a few inches you can go from 2-3 inches to 1 inch in a few steps, so be careful. Your weakest ice will be at shore and most of the time when I’ve ever fallen through it’s been near reeds or right at shore. Another thing to keep in mind is that ice that is thin will weaken throughout the day and slowly sink. For example this day when we stopped for brown trout we fished for roughly 20 minutes and by the time we walked off the ice, it was under about half a foot of water and it was weak. Be safe is what I’m saying, fishing on unsafe ice isn’t worth a life. So fishing these brown trout first ice, we safely checked the ice with an axe and cut some holes into the ice with the axe. It’s awesome because you can cut pretty big holes and just sit and sight fish or lay down and sight fish as the weather is pretty mild and no tent or shack is needed. I put down a small hook, it was almost instantly that I had one on! I took some quick pics, sent it back then dropped down again, once again I had another hit it fast! This happened 5 times, as soon as I could get my hook down I had one on, all different fish and tons of fun, that being said we were limited on time as I had said we’d be back home at a certain time, so we packed up and left. It was one of my best first ice trips ever even though I was sad it was cut short. I caught some really awesome coloured up brown trout. I’m hoping to get out soon for some in the next few weeks if the weather creates any ice for me. I just hope that anyone that is reading this takes safety measures if you’re heading out on first ice, always bring a buddy to hold the other end of the rope, never try first ice alone, if you fall through try and remain calm, catch your breathe and breath slowly the crawl out the way you came on, that will be your safest ice. Test your ice with an axe or spud and some guys even wear a life jacket or floatation suits that are now available as snow suits. Be safe and enjoy the fishing if you can get out because it can be a great time to fish.