Ice Fishing: Safe Use of Portable Shelters and Heaters


Ice fishing participation has exploded in recent years. With so many new anglers to the sport, there is bound to be a learning curve or two. Unfortunately, in the worst possible scenario, doing the wrong thing can result in not even having the chance to learn from your mistakes. Two local anglers lost their lives last weekend due to suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. The couple was discovered unresponsive by other anglers in their zippered-up portable pop-up shelter on the Red River at Selkirk.


When using any portable heating system such as propane-fuelled units like ‘sunflowers’ or Buddy heaters, it is imperative to provide proper ventilation for them. Our instinct when using portable shelters and portable heaters during ice fishing is to seal up every possible source of cold air to keep the warm air in. However, if you do not permit some access for fresh air, the resulting build-up of carbon monoxide can be deathly dangerous for anyone inside.
• All ice fishing shelters have built-in vent flaps usually located at head level on at least two sides of the tent. Always have these open when using a heater.
• For more ventilation, open one of the windows part way or all the way to ensure that fresh air is always getting exchanged.
• An invaluable piece of equipment, especially if planning to spend time overnight on the ice is a portable CO detector alarm which can be purchased starting at $30. A common mistake is to place the alarm on the floor of the shelter. For maximum safety, place the alarm higher up in the tent such as in the cargo netting on the roof or attach it to one of the higher poles as CO is lighter and will collect at the top.
• If you begin to feel dizzy, light-headed, short of breath, or disoriented at all while in your shelter, open the door and step outside immediately for fresh air.
• Check your portable heater unit and propane source for damage and proper working operation regularly throughout the season.

Jomar Sarmiento

Keystone Walleye Tour – Balsam Bay
A good number of FAAM Members competed at the recent KWT ice fishing tournament on Lake Winnipeg out of Balsam Bay. The top placing FAAM team was the duo of myself Eric Labaupa and Carlo Guzzi finishing in 6th place out of 23 teams. The winning weight was a whopping 69.25lbs for their best 10 greenback walleye over two days of competition. Divine Labaupa and her partner Val Dotoli were the only all-female team to compete so far this season and they placed a respectable 14th. They captured ‘Cool Under Pressure’ honours jumping the most spots up from Day 1 thanks to 29.25” and 27.75” Master Angler catches on Day 2. The next tournament in the series is on February 20-21 out of Winnipeg Beach. For more information on entering or to watch the event unfold on live stream visit KWT on Facebook.

Photo of Nick Nacionales and Nick Jr. to accompany the PSA on ice shelter and propane heater safety in light of the two anglers who died on the weekend from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Photos courtesy of Eric Labaupa