Most ice anglers have heard the same information over and over, year after year. But it’s a topic near to my heart so I have to repeat it: The ice is never safe.
We’ve had a week of subzero temperatures, but still the ice is never safe. This year, we can thank the foot of snow that fell in the lakes area for contributing to particularly unpredictable ice conditions.
According to the DNR, snow insulates the ice, preventing the cold air from getting through, which slows down the ice formation process. The heavy snow pushes down on the ice and could cause cracks.
Following are comments received from area DNR conservation officers in the past couple of weeks regarding ice conditions:
• Dustie Heaton of Willow River: Please use the utmost precautions when heading out on the lakes. The ice is still very unpredictable and common sense should be used. No fish is worth losing your life over or endangering the lives of those who will be rescuing you should you go through the ice.
• Tim Collette of Pequot Lakes: One very smart couple heading out ice fishing for the first time this year turned around and headed back to shore after finding only a few inches of ice. They said it wasn’t worth the risk for a few fish.
Collette reported this week that he saw a reversal as some of the fish houses that had been put out on the lakes got hauled back off as the heavy snow caused lots of water and slush on top of the ice.
• Mike Lee of Crosslake: I spoke to anglers venturing out onto the ice who were reporting very slushy conditions with a so-so bite. (I) responded to a possible party going through the ice on an area lake. It turned out the party had gone in for lunch and had left his fishing equipment out on the ice until he returned from lunch.
• Karl Hadrits of Crosby: Ice conditions on our lakes are marginal with heavy snow causing slush over ice found to range from 3 to 7 inches thick, making motor vehicle use dangerous.
• Duke Broughten of Longville: Recent heavy snowfall created unfavorable ice conditions with some lakes in the area reporting 4 to 8 inches of slush on top of the ice.
The DNR urges people not to let their guard down on the ice, reiterating that ice is unpredictable and never 100 percent safe.
The DNR recommends anyone heading out on the ice should carry a set of ice picks, check with a local bait shop or resort about ice conditions and measure the ice.
The DNR clear ice thickness recommendations are:
• 4 inches for walking.
• 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.
• 8-12 inches for a car.
• 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.
When the temperature rises above freezing for six of the last 24 hours, double the recommended minimum thickness. And if it stays above freezing for 24 hours or more, stay off the ice — it is not safe, the DNR says.