On my way to work earlier this week, I noticed some folks out on the pond near my home doing a little ice fishing. While I've never done that myself, I know a lot of people who have, in fact my husband and his dad used to go ice fishing a lot when he was growing up. He still talks quite vividly about how really, really cold it was even in the little fishing cabin his dad built to protect them from the winds out on the ice.

Obviously, you have to know what you're doing before you decide to walk out on a seemingly frozen surface of water and start fishing. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation recommends that four inches, or more, of solid ice is considered to be safe to walk on and fish.

Keep in mind though, that the thickness of ice can vary greatly on the same body of water. Plus, there could be 'bubblers' installed around docks or homes that are designed to prevent ice build-up, so extra caution is required.

Even if you see snowmobile tracks or other footprints on the ice, it doesn't mean it's safe. Don't make that assumption, always check the thickness of the ice yourself before risking your life, or someone else's, by walking on it. This can be done easily with an auger or ice spud.

If you've never gone ice fishing before, there will be a free fishing weekend February 18 and 19. No fishing license will be required. You can download a free ice fishing guide here, plus it lists locations where you can do some ice fishing.

Have fun, but please be safe.