Posted at: 12/07/2012 11:32 AM
Updated at: 12/10/2012 10:27 AM
With area lakes freezing up quickly, early ice fishermen are chomping at the bit, ready to get out on the lakes. It's also a good time to get a reminder of the dangers of early season ice fishing.
It was December 21st one year ago on Lake Mille Lacs when a large piece of ice broke off, sending a group of fishermen out to sea. They had to be rescued by hovercraft.
Russ Francisco of Marine General gives a reason why early ice fishing is so popular.
"It's the best time of year to fish," explains Francisco. "Everyone wants to go."
Although larger lakes may be still open, smaller lakes freeze sooner in the year and can mistakenly look safer than they actually are.
"You can be on six inches of ice here and no ice here," says Francisco. "Treat all ice like we're going to go through."
Conservation Officer Andy Schmidt adds that it takes at least four inches of solid, clear ice for a person to walk on.
"Ice isn't exactly 100% safe at any point in time," says Schmidt. "I hope people take the necessary precautions."
The proper gear when early ice fishing makes all the difference, especially if you end up breaking through. If you do plan on fishing the early ice season, wear a life jacket. Fish in a party, and make sure everyone has a long length of rope to help pull you out. Carry a whistle, keep ice pikes easily accessible, and above all else, use common sense.
Good luck out there.