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For fishermen, this is an interesting time of year – between open water and ice, when there is not a lot of action anywhere.

Reports on conditions and ice depths are coming in from regional rivers and lakes in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Everyone is talking ice and how early the waters are freezing this year. It could be the earliest ice in nearly 25 years.

Most locations are only reporting very thin ice, with 1-inch depths typical. Most fishermen like to have at least 3 inches before heading out, and even then they proceed with a great deal of caution.

The light snow layer will not add to the ice, because snow works as an insulator. Even so, with the cold temperatures a number of professional guides in southern Wisconsin are beginning to book ice fishing trips for Thanksgiving weekend in hopes they will have enough ice by then.

This would be an excellent time for enthusiasts to get ice fishing gear together, making sure the snowmobile suit or Carhart’s, insulated gloves, hat, socks and boots are all serviceable and in good shape.

Firing up that auger, whether gas-powered or manual, will make it easy to check for damaged blades; replacing them now could later save a day on the ice. 

It is important to inspect the line on reels for nicks and scrapes; it is a good idea to start each year with fresh line. Because cold weather is really hard on the gears, it helps to apply a little grease or lubricant to the reels. Last, the locator needs to be checked and its batteries charged if necessary.

This fisherman is hoping for better ice and good reports from around the area by next week.

Until next time…keep a tight line.