Q: With our unusual winter, what sort of precautions should people take when venturing out onto the frozen lakes and rivers to fish or do other forms of recreation?

 A: Ice is never 100 percent safe, even during the coldest winter, so it is always a good idea to check ice conditions by calling a local bait shop or resort before heading out. It is also a good idea to bring along a friend, rope, ice picks, a cell phone and wear a lifejacket. It is never a good idea for anglers or anyone to rely on the calendar to determine whether or not a frozen lake is safe, especially this year. In years past, ice may have been passable by Dec. 20, but with the constant temperature swings, from mild to freezing, the thickness and safety of ice on a lake or river is a concern for either walking or driving. The following ice thickness is recommended for these intended uses: a minimum of four inches of new, clear ice for foot traffic; five inches for ATVs and snowmobiles; and a minimum of eight to 12 inches for cars or small trucks. Local resorts and bait shops can often provide information about ice thickness and point out dangerous areas.


- Tim Smalley, DNR Boat & Water safety specialist

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