Important safety precautions to take while ice fishing

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Ever since he was a kid, Eric Haataja has loved to fish.

"I've had a lot of passion for it my whole life. If I can catch them on the ice or in the open water I'm going to be out here fishing for them," said Haataja.

Now working as a professional fisherman, Haataja wants to remind people about the important safety precautions to take while out fishing on the ice.

Step one, check the conditions of the ice before you even leave your home.

"You can go to some of the fishing forums, websites and look at the ice fishing thickness reports on certain bodies of water that you're going to be going fishing," said Haataja.

Once you get out on the ice use an ice pick to hit the ice to make sure it's strong, and if it's your first time don't stray too far away from the main trails and others fishing.

Another thing you should always have with you is a cell phone in case there is an emergency on the ice.

Just make sure that you put it in a plastic, waterproof container just in case you happen to drop it in the water.

Make sure you bring floatation devices in case more than just your cell phone falls in the water.

Bring plenty of clothing and equipment to stay warm in the bitter cold.

"I've got some really warm ice fishing gear on. We've got a really warm ice fishing shelter here that will keep you warm, keep you out of the elements, keep you and your family warm and protected," said Haataja.

Then just pack your patience to wait for that big catch.

"There's not a better feeling in the world, it's so exciting," said Haataja.

For more information on how to learn the sport of ice fishing with Eric Haataja, CLICK HERE.

For more information on ice conditions, CLICK HERE.