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Ice anglers should tell state about stuck shanties

  • Associated Press
  • March 1, 2014 - 7:38 PM

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wardens say they will use discretion in enforcing a rule that requires fishing shanties off the ice in March, since many are stuck due to changing weather.

Anglers have been asking for advice about how to meet the deadlines because their shanties are frozen in after temperatures climbed into the 40s and then dipped below zero again, according the agency.

Leniency will be granted to fishermen who are trying to remove the structure and who report the problem to the department, Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller tells the La Crosse Tribune (http://bit.ly/Nc01yX ).

"Discretion is saying: We know it, we'll deal with it," Schaller said.

Shanties were supposed be off Wisconsin-Iowa boundary waters by Feb. 20. They must be off Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters by March 1; southern inland waters by March 3; northern inland waters by March 17; and Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters by March 15.

Removing shanties has required a bit more elbow grease this year, said Tony Christnovich, owner of Schafer's Boats and Bait in Brice Prairie. He has helped a few anglers get their houses off the Lake Onalaska ice this week, and sometimes the task has called for ice chippers and hydraulic jacks.

Some shanty owners put wooden blocks underneath their structure to prevent sticking, but others don't bother with that precaution. If they're not blocked up, metal runners cut and melt into the ice as the weather changes, Christnovich said.

"Shanties have a tendency to freeze in," Christnovich said.

He said the DNR's announcement should come as welcome news to Lake Onalaska regulars.

Harold Lynch, who said he has been ice fishing for 70 years, found it difficult to believe that the state can't just extend the deadline. He pointed out the ice on Lake Onalaska is roughly 30 inches thick or more.

"It sucks," said the 78-year-old angler. "If they wanted, they could extend it."

But pushing back the March 1 deadline would require an administrative rule change, a lengthy process that would be impossible to use effectively while accurately anticipating the weather, Schaller said.

"The deadline is set so people have safe conditions," Schaller said.

Anglers still can go out on the ice after Saturday, but they can't leave their tents or shacks there, according to the DNR.

© 2014 Star Tribune