Fishing is a year round sport, and there are many places where the fish are biting in the winter months of December, January, and February. Fishing from a boat is always going to be better than shore, so people love to take their boats out, even in winter storms. One big problem you might face is after a snowstorm, or when it rains and freezes on the boat ramp. We are going to tackle this question, and give you a couple of great tips for not getting stuck on the boat launch when its freezing.
Can you launch a boat down a ramp when there is ice? As long as the conditions are safe, you can back a boat down a ramp even when there is heavy ice. Give other boaters more space than normal, and if needed, wait for others to finish launching before backing your boat down. If needed, you can salt or sand the ramp to give your tires extra traction, and melt the ice so you don’t spin your wheels. Safety concerns will be doubled when launching your boat under weather conditions.
Will 4 Wheel Drive Help
Just because you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, doesn’t mean that you can go anywhere without getting stuck. If there is ice and snow, having 4 wheel drive will only make all four tires spin with no traction. always carry chains or cables with you, especially when pulling a boat so you can get the traction you need to get up the boat ramp. Having 4 wheel drive normally makes people think they can go anywhere and not get stuck, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Don’t Drain Your Boat On The Ramp
When its cold, and freezing, NEVER drain your boat on the ramp. The water can freeze quickly when it gets extremely cold, which can cause you to lose traction on the ice, and could cause your vehicle and boat trailer to slide back into the water. Wait until you are all the way up your boat ramp and on level ground before you pull the plugs. Never stop on the boat ramp when there is heavy ice or you might not get going again. Pull your boat out slow and keep moving slowly until you are in a safe spot.
Salt And Sand
I always carry a bag of salt in my truck or boat when it gets icy. You never know what the boat ramp will be like in the morning, or in the afternoon when you come back from fishing. The worst scenario possible is when you are the last one off the lake and get stuck. It could take hours for anyone to get out to you depending on where you are at. Having a bag of salt or sand handy can mean the difference between getting home safely, or calling a tow truck.
Keep These In Your Boat Or Truck
A trick I learned when I was young was to keep a couple of cheap door mats in your vehicle or boat. If you get stuck in the ice, you can throw them under your tires for extra traction to get out. Door mats are super cheap, and if you dont have room for sand or salt, can save your fishing trip. Door mats are easy to store in the bed of your truck or in your boat, and can easily be washed off for multiple uses. Keeping a couple of these handy can save you a tow truck call.
What Happens If I Get Stuck
If for some reason you do get stuck on the ice, the first thing to do is NOT panic. I know that sounds hard, but starting to panic will only make things worse. Most of the time, you won’t be alone on the lake, so first try to find someone that can possibly pull your vehicle to safety. If you are all alone, call a tow truck in the area and they can come get you out. Most tow trucks that deal with snow and ice are equipped to help people like this, but might cost you a couple hundred bucks.
Always tell someone where you are going if you are going alone. This way, if you are gone later than you are supposed to be, and are out of cell range, they can call someone to help or check on you.
Help Someone When Its Needed
If you are able, always help someone in need, you never know when you might have to be on the receiving end of a tow. I know it might seem like it will take time away from being out on the lake, but you could save someone else’s day by being a good person.
Everyone is my friend when I am out on the lake fishing, and I would hope that everyone else will treat me the same way. I have seen people get out of their own truck to help a new person back their boat down the ramp, be that person!
Carry Chains Or Cables
If you can afford it, always keep a set of chains in your vehicle just in case you get stuck or hit heavy ice. Even if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, get a box of chains or cables.
They might run you between $35 and $50 dollars a tire, but when you need them, they will be worth millions in your mind. having this small piece of mind is going to save you when the time comes, even if you think you will never have to use them, at least have them with you.
I have fished in all kinds of conditions, and ice is by far the worst. It’s slick, and have seen more trucks jack knife on the ramp than when it’s raining and snowing. Always carry something like salt, sand or even door mats in your vehicle or boat. Always be kind to people in need, and never feel bad about asking for help. People that have been fishing for a long time have run into more snags than you can imagine, and are pretty good about helping.
How Wide Is A Boat Ramp?
A typical boat ram is around 12 feet wide, and 20 feet long depending on the lake, and can weigh up to 9-10 tons. Ramps are at least six inches thick, and depending on the slope and depth, can be up to 40 feet long to reach the right depth. This gives the lake a better distance for when it is hot and the lake starts to get lower.
Is It Safe To Take Your Boat Out When There Is Ice?
Yes, it is safe to take your boat out when there is ice on the water. One approach is to move your boat slowly to where your bow first, and slide up on it for a foot or two, and the weight of your boat should break the ice. If the ice is thick, slowly work your way to it, and have someone on the front of your boat to break up the ice. If there is gaps in the ice, you should be able to idle right through it going slow so you do not puncture or gouge your boat.