As temperatures climb this week, ice fishing may become dangerous

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Tis the season for ice fishing, but with temperatures climbing this week, extra caution is needed.

“With the warmer weather we’re getting, and everybody’s been going and being pretty, probably, apathetic about it because we’ve got a good amount of ice,” explained Marine General Owner Russ Francisco. “We might find some soft spots. Springs, flowage areas, creeks, dams, things like that. So we need to be cognizant of that and pay attention, maybe stay away from those areas.”

According to Francisco, rain this week could actually be beneficial, depending on the amount and how quickly it freezes.

“If we get a lot of water on the ice, that’s tough. Especially if it doesn’t freeze right away,” Francisco said. “It tends to roughen up the ice too, so that makes it easier to walk on sometimes, but when we get a lot of rain and then it lays flat for a little bit, it hardens up, and it’s almost like a skating rink and then we’re back to spikes and things like that, you have to be really careful. Then if it snows a little bit on top of it, it’s even worse. So if you don’t have a pair of yak tracks or kahtoolas or some kind of spikes, you might consider investing in a set before it rains because you’re going to probably need it after.”

The D-N-R recommends checking ice thickness every 150 feet. Clear or blue ice is the strongest, whereas gray ice should be avoided.

“When we have snow, it makes it tough,” Francisco explained. “But you can tell nice, clear, crisp blue ice, and then you can see the ice is stained. especially on the river or on flowage lakes. You’ll see it yellows a bit and things like that. You’ll probably want to stay away from those areas and walk around them. We tend to walk across them because it’s a shorter distance. but stay off them .”

Even if you think you’re on good, strong ice, be prepared just in case.

“You want to make sure you’ve got your safety equipment with you. You want to make sure that you have some type of floatation device, whether you’re wearing it or a life jacket, or a cushion,” Francisco explained. “Especially when you’re on your four-wheeler and stuff, you want to be able to get off that thing, get to solid ice if it happens to go through. You should always want to have a set of picks around your neck so if you go through, you can work your way out.”

More information on ice thickness and other ways to stay safe this winter can be found at this link.