Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wanted us to encourage you to make safety the number one concern during a day on the ice.

It's a form of fishing that a lot of Montana anglers love and many are ready to venture out on hard water where it's available. While the first ice of the year often offers some of the best fishing, it also can be quite variable from location to location and from day to day. You should be very familiar with the with body of water you plan to fish. It has definitely not been the coldest of late Novembers and early Decembers so far. You should pay as much attention to the changing conditions of the ice as you do the fishing conditions.

If you have even the slightest doubt about the safety of the ice, stay off of it. No fish is worth a fall into frigid water. Blue or "clear" ice is usually the hardest. Watch out for opaque, dark, gray or porous spots in the ice. They could be weak or soft areas. Refer to the attached FWP chart and follow recommended MINIMUMS.

Here's to great and above all safe fishing this winter.