Summaries this week from Minnesota conservation officers across the state are rife with people threatening their well-being – and that of possible rescuers – to fish despite unsafe lake ice conditions.
Reported officer Shane Osborne in the Evansville area:
“A fisherman tried pressing his luck by putting out a large, wheeled fish house on Pelican Lake by Ashby. Unfortunately, he pressed it too far when the fish house fell through the ice. After several 50-degree days, the fish house resembled more of a boat than an icehouse.”
The overriding theme from reports is (a) lake ice is varied and iffy because of recent unseasonably warm weather in parts of the state and (b) anglers continue to take risks by venturing onto unsafe ice.
The state Department of Natural Resources has ice safety guidelines on its website. Ice thickness can vary on the same water, depending on springs, currents and more. New, clear ice is to be avoided unless it is more than 4 inches or more; then, foot traffic is suitable. Among its recommendations for assessing ice, the DNR suggests calling local bait shops and resorts to find out about ice conditions.
Two Minnesotans drowned on Upper Red Lake after their all-terrain vehicle broke through the ice last weekend. The pair had rented a sleeper fish house from Rogers Resort, according to authorities.