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Ice Update: Tips to stay safe while on the ice

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 7:00 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Even a cold, Minnesota winter day can’t keep anglers from doing a little ice fishing in the sunshine.

But despite our recent deep freeze, experts warn to remain cautious of ice conditions.

The biggest thing beginner and even veteran anglers need to keep in mind on the ice is that ice is never 100 percent safe.

“It sounds like the ice up on Lake Zumbro is somewhere around the eight inch area and then out on the reservoirs, where there’s no current, the ice is a little thicker,” Sgt. Kelly Lee with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office said. “It’s in that 10-12 inch area.”

“We’ve been typically seeing between six and nine inches on the backwaters and Lake Pepin when we’ve checked,” Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Large Lake Specialist Nick Schlesser said.

Two people out ice fishing
Two people out ice fishing(KTTC)

The Minnesota DNR and Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office both say having proper safety equipment is important out on the ice.

“Always have some ice picks that will help you get out,” Schlesser said. “If you were to go through, they are easy, they are cheep, you wear them around their neck and they have spikes on them that you can pull apart if you were to go through, you can help crawl onto the ice.”

The experts also said it’s crucial to check ice depths at least every 150 feet when you go out, especially if there is a current running underneath.

“The current actually shaves away inches of ice everyday,” Lee said. “I mean it can be eight inches one day and it can be four or five the next day. I would say we’ve had average ice making conditions this year.”

Man using an ice auger
Man using an ice auger(KTTC)

In fact, the DNR says the lack of snow is actually good for ice growth.

“Right now we don’t have a lot of snow covering our ice,” Schlesser said. “If you have a lot of snow covering your ice, that insulates the ice from the cold and prevents it from building as quickly.

Both agencies want to remind anyone who goes out on the ice to let someone know where you will be and when you plan to return just in case something happens and help is needed.

“They should have at least four inches of ice before they even start walking out there,” Lee said. “Anything less is just not safe at all.”

You can get additional safety tips and tricks about ice on the Minnesota DNR website.

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