Ice not completely safe for full-fledged fishing activities

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- The ice is slowly forming, but not fast enough for people who want to get out and enjoy some ice fishing this winter. The Wisconsin DNR says it's still not completely safe for full-fledged ice fishing activities.

“It’s been slow, for me anyway,” said Roger Szuimoniak of Eau Claire, who was out ice fishing for a few hours at Carson Park Friday.
Slow is the word generating among fishers on the ice lately, as the ice has been slow to form, delaying local fishers from getting out in the cold.

The DNR says right now there’s about 5-6 inches of ice on most bodies of water in the area and have noticed folks getting antsy to be out on the water but remember to be careful.

“We’ve had some shacks go through the ice in the area, so be aware,” warned DNR Conservation Warden Scott Thiede. “Again, some shacks are heavier than others, but that weight and thermal mask can create a problem if you don't have ice depth; and currently I don't think we have ice depth to support permanent shacks.”

Thiede says it’s usually safe to walk on ice when its 4-5 inches thick; it’s safe to drive a snowmobile or ATV when it’s 5-6 inches, however pulling a shack onto the ice you should wait for the ice to be about 6-8 inches thick; and driving, you need 12-15 inches.

“If you're pulling an ice shack out with an ATV that might work in 6 to 8 inches of ice” Thiede said. “Obviously, if you're using a truck or car to pull a shack out then we'd like 12 to 15 inches of ice. We just caution people that ice conditions determine when it’s safe not the time of year, not the calendar.”

And always have a plan because you never know what could happen.

“Usually fishing with a buddy,” Cody Roehl said of Eau Claire, who was out fishing for only an hour when WEAU caught up with him. “You always want to have somebody with you or at least have someone close enough to you, so can yell or something; otherwise you should have ice picks or ice cleats.”

Thiede adds you should also have a rope nearby or carry an ice pick because if the ice is too thin, those tools could be your best chance.

The DNR says they have had some shacks go through the ice in the area and it's the responsibility of the shack owner to remove it within 10 days depending on safety issues. The same goes for a vehicle, which a person has 30 days to remove if it falls through the ice. But with ice only 6 inches thick right now, they need about half a foot more of ice, before driving your vehicle on there is safe.

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