A simple, inexpensive piece of gear could save your life.

Colder days and nights are starting to freeze over the lakes and ponds here in Maine. However, the ice still isn't close to ideal in some areas. Some ice has formed up north from snow, rain and slush, causing the ice to be airy, and inconsistent in thickness.

The chart above from NOAA makes the rounds online each year. It serves as a reminder for those who venture out on the hard water as to how much solid, clear, ice, is needed to support various activities. Four inches of ice is ideal for safe fishing. It isn't until the ice is at least six inches thick that it can support the weight of ATVs and snowmobiles. For vehicles, nine inches of ice can support the weight of most cars. Medium sized trucks need a foot or more of solid ice.

If you're hitting the ice for any reason, check the thickness as you go. Use a crowbar or ice chisel to check the thickness as you get further from shore. The Maine Warden Service shows you how in the video above. The video was live streamed back in 2017, but has evergreen ice safety tips.

Ice Picks
Paul Wolfe, Townsquare Media

A piece of gear everyone should have is ice picks. Ice picks are found at most outdoor outfitters. Amazon sells various styles for around $10. Picks should be kept on your person, readily accessible in case of emergency. They do you no good if left at the bottom of your pack basket.

If you fall through, stay calm. Grab your picks and drive them into the ice. Use them as handles to pull yourself out of the water. The video above will show you how.

Stay safe, and happy fishing.

15 Must-Have Items For Ice Fishing Season In Maine

Ice fishing is an excellent way to embrace the cold winter months in Maine. It will get you outdoors for some fresh air, it's family friendly, and a successful day could yield a tasty dinner. If you're new to the sport, we put together a list of gear you'll need for a fun, comfortable, and successful day on the ice. Some of these items are more essential than others. Some gear may not be essential at all, depending on how you plan to fish. Again, the items we listed are geared towards those who are new to ice fishing.

Before we get to the list, remember to dress appropriately for the cold weather. We didn't put warm outerwear on the list, but it's definitely a must-have. Dressing in layers is important to ensure you're warm enough throughout the day on the ice. If you start getting too warm, you can simply take a layer off. Hand warmers are also worth packing.

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