It had to happen: We finally have enough ice on most of our lakes, ponds and rivers for ice fishing. It is important to be careful because most ice is safe to walk on, but a lot of areas still cannot support snowmobiles or ATVs, and certainly not cars and trucks just yet.

The reports from Lake Winnebago speak to this condition. There is a measurable 12-13 inches of ice, but it is pretty soft and honey-combed, so it will not support heavy vehicles.

A number of area lakes have good ice for fishing: Crystal Lake, Bangs Lake and Wonder Lake all have 7-9 inches of ice, and anglers have been getting perch, bluegills and crappies.

Bulletin: Anyone heading to Bangs Lake in Wauconda should be aware that the local fishing ordinance has been changed and is being enforced on the ice: The daily limit on perch and all panfish is 10, and the minimum length is 6 inches.

Nearer to home the ice is good on Beck Lake, and anglers are getting good bites on small perch. Busse Lake still has pretty thin ice, so attention should be paid and care should be taken. No fishing reports from Busse.

Last time we talked about safety on the ice, we did not really talk about hypothermia. This occurs when the body has a sudden drop in core temperature (for example from a fall into a frozen lake) and symptoms start to occur in about 10 minutes after exposure: severe shivering, then numbness and difficulty controlling body movements. Advanced stages would include altered mental status and poor decision-making, followed by unconsciousness and eventually death (usually within an hour of exposure).

This is really an extreme risk. It is important to be careful out on ice. It is not a good idea to go alone. It is important for fishermen to let someone know where they are and when they plan to return. Getting help quickly is really critical.

Ice fishing is really great fun – just be careful out there.

Until next time…keep a tight line.

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