To be sure, conditions have changed dramatically all across most of the state in the last couple of days.

It took a while to get here, but winter finally hit Montana with an arctic haymaker. That means lots more winter enthusiasts will be heading out, equipped with their skates and ice fishing gear.

But please, do not go gentle onto that good ice.

Whether ice fishing, ice skating, hunting, snowmobiling or just taking a walk, caution and common sense still should be top-of-mind. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wanted us to share with winter recreation lovers that safety should still be the number one concern during a day on, or near, the ice. There are many key guidelines FWP recommends you follow, even with these more favorable "hard water" conditions.

Montana Ice Fising Reports
Image courtesy of Getty Images, GROGL


Montana FWP says that anglers should be familiar with the water body they plan to fish or recreate on. Pay close attention to the changing conditions of the ice. If you have even the slightest doubt about the safety of the ice, stay off of it. Nothing is ever worth a fall into frigid water.


Blue or “clear” ice is usually hard. Watch out for opaque, gray, dark or porous spots in the ice that could be weak, soft areas. Ice also tends to thin more quickly at the shorelines or near structures protruding though the ice such as rocks, stumps and trees .Note areas on the ice that may look different. Many times, thinner areas of ice caused by conditions including springs, gas pockets, sunken islands and points have a different color or look to them. Use extreme caution or stay away from those areas.

Montana Ice Fishing Reports
Image courtesy of Getty Images, aventurus


Recommended minimum ice thickness guidelines include:

  • Under 4 inches: STAY OFF
  • 4 inches: individual angler ice fishing or other activities on foot
  • 7 inches:  snowmobile or ATV
  • 10 inches: small car
  • 12 inches: truck or SUV

Don’t leave children unsupervised on the ice. Especially with kids, it's a good idea to wear a life jacket or carry a throwable floatation device or rope while out on the ice.

Montana Ice Fishing Reports
Image courtesy of Getty Images, Svetlana Khvorostova

There is so much more useful information that can be obtained from the Montana FWP Ice Safety Checklist. Taking a few minutes for a quick review could make the difference between a safe outing and a dangerous one.

LOOK: Biggest snowfalls recorded in Montana history

Stacker compiled a list of the biggest 1-day snowfalls in Montana using data from the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

LOOK: The most extreme temperatures in the history of every state

Stacker consulted 2021 data from the NOAA's State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) to illustrate the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in each state. Each slide also reveals the all-time highest 24-hour precipitation record and all-time highest 24-hour snowfall.

Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

Gallery Credit: Anuradha Varanasi



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