Outdoor experts advise caution on ice-covered lakes, ponds


MISSOULA, Mont. - Warmer temperatures could make ice on lakes, ponds and rivers unstable.

NBC Montana talked to outdoor experts and they tell us people should absolutely not walk on frozen rivers, even if they look solid.

Joe Jaquith, a game warden sergeant with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says as you're approaching a frozen lake or pond, look it over well and try to use good judgment.

"See if there are fishermen on the ice or signs of snowmobile or sled tracks," said Jaquith.  "You should always bring a buddy -- we call it the buddy system -- so if someone falls through there is another person there who can help."

Lastly, Jaquith says bring the proper equipment, even a safety rope can do, and then if someone falls through the other person can assist.

Jaquith says outdoor supply stores carry a variety of devices people can use to pull themselves out of a frozen lake, such as ice escape kits and pickaxes.  He says outdoor stores also carry items like ice cleats which can help people grip the ice to avoid slipping and getting injured. 

"If you have to approach somebody that's broken through the ice you want to do it kind of on your belly," said Jaquith.  "Preferably you're going to toss something to them and pull them from where you're on solid ice, pull them out that way."

Jaquith says if you're looking for a solid place to go ice fishing he recommends Georgetown, Browns, or Salmon Lakes; he says these are popular winter fishing spots.

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