Jan. 14—Saturday is Free Fishing Day in New Hampshire, when anyone can fish without a license.
But New Hampshire Fish and Game is warning ice fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts to be careful on the ice after this winter's fluctuating temperatures.
"With erratic weather conditions, some areas of ice may look safe, but may not be," Col. Kevin Jordan, chief of law enforcement for Fish and Game, said in a news release. "We are urging people to check the ice thickness before going out onto any frozen (body of water)."
Fish and Game also warned it is never advisable to drive vehicles onto the ice.
Those on foot should assess ice safety by using an ice chisel or auger to determine the thickness and composition of the ice, and continue doing so as they venture out as ice thickness, the agency said.
The U.S. Army Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory in Hanover recommends a minimum of 6 inches of hard ice for individual foot travel, and 8 to 10 inches of hard ice for snow machines or off-highway recreational vehicles, the news release said.
Noting that varying weather conditions can create weak ice, Fish and Game also advised outdoor enthusiasts to be especially careful of areas with currents such as inlets, outlets and spring holes.
More tips to stay safe:
—Don't go out on the ice during thaws.
—Stay off the ice along the shoreline if it is cracked or squishy.
—Watch out for thin, clear or honeycombed ice. Dark snow and ice may indicate weak spots.
—Always bring along a rescue rope, ice picks and personal flotation device.
—If you do break through the ice, stay calm. Move or swim back to where you fell in, lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard to lift your body onto the ice. Once out of the water, roll away from the hole until you reach solid ice.
—If someone you are with breaks through the ice, don't rush to the hole. Instead, look for something to reach the person with, such as a rope or tree branch, lie flat and reach out with your tool. After securing the person, do not stand; instead, wiggle backwards on the solid ice, pulling the person with you.
—For snowmobilers, check trail conditions before you go.
More information about ice fishing is at: www.fishnh.com/fishing/ice-fishing.html.