Turns out, ice fishing can be traumatic for more than just the fish.
Winter anglers have suffered everything from burns to broken bones to concussions while hunkering down in their shanties, according to a new Mayo Clinic analysis of emergency department data.
From 2009 to 2014, hospitals across the country submitted 85 reports to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System concerning injuries stemming from ice fishing, and the reports suggest an unexpected variety of dangers.
"Falling through the ice is the most feared risk of ice fishing," said Cornelius Thiels, a Mayo surgical resident who was the lead author of the report. "However, it turns out that burns are just as common, but rarely discussed."
Nearly half the injuries were orthopedic or musculoskeletal - broken bones, sprains and strains, Thiels said. About one-third involved minor trauma such as cuts, abrasions and, of course, fishing hook punctures. Four burns were reported, likely due to contact with space heaters inside ice fishing shacks. Some cases of carbon monoxide inhalation were reported as well.
Four emergency cases involved anglers who fell into cold water.
In fact, Thiels said, the winter pastime might be more dangerous than the summer version.
"We have seen an increase in ice fishing-related injuries," he said. "What is even more concerning is that ice fishing injuries tend to be more severe than injuries associated with traditional fishing."
Thiels said the 85 cases were all the researchers could find. There might be others that weren't specifically linked in records to ice fishing.
Injuries were most common among men younger than 40, the researchers found. Intoxication was more common among winter fishing injuries than those that occurred in the spring or summer, according to the report, which was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.