Minnesota DNR Advises Ice Anglers to be Cautious this Winter Season

warmer weather keeps thawing the ice out

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — The warmer weather certainly hasn’t stopped people from ice fishing this year.

Minnesota’s Department of Resources is reminding everyone to proceed with caution.

Ice anglers say they need to get back out on the lakes soon to feel the rush they’ve been waiting for all year long.

“I mean you get out there and you drop a line. You start reeling up something and it starts fighting back and I mean, bring it up and it’s like holy s***,” said ice angler Colin Sprunk.

But with open water patches still among the ice, the lakes aren’t as ready as some of those anglers.

“The temperatures have definitely not been normal,” said Nathan Olson, Minnesota DNR area fisheries supervisor. “So it’s definitely not normal for it to be opening up as much as it has and so people are really are going to have to be aware of what they’re dealing with when they decide to go out on the ice.”

Olson says if you plan to walk out on a lake, it should be at least four inches thick, and if you drive out on an ATV, it should be at least six inches thick.

No one has fallen through any of the ice in Detroit Lakes yet. Olson says people should still prepare because a breakthrough can happen.

“Wear a life jacket if you’re unsure of what you’re getting into,” he said. “That’ll help you if you need to get out of the ice if you break through.”

The lack of good ice to fish on is icing business for local bait shops.

“Fall fishing is a little slower for me. Once ice fishing starts, it’ll pick up and I’m just waiting on that,” said Matthew Onstead, owner of Quality Bait and Tackle.

But Onstead says he doesn’t blame people for taking precautions.

“If you don’t know the lake, don’t go under five inches,” he said.

Some say at the end of the day, a person’s safety will always be more important because…

“No life is worth a fish.,” said Kendall Anderson.

“And the water is cold,” Sprunk said.

Olson recommends ice anglers drill holes and use a tape measure to check the thickness of the ice.

He also says people should use the buddy system.

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