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Ice fishing is starting to move into full swing on some of our area lakes. The up-and-down temperatures and snowfalls have given us widely differing ice conditions on the lakes. Some of the northern lakes, such as Lake Delevan, Lake Zurich, Lauderdale Lakes, and Whitewater Lake, are all reporting ice between 6 and 8 inches, but larger lakes such as Lake Geneva barely have 2 inches and still have open water in some areas. The fishing has been pretty spotty – largely small perch and bluegill on most area lakes.

With ice thickness varying so much, ice safety is an important consideration. Here’s a guide for ice thickness: less than 2 inches, stay off; 4 inches is safe for walking and fishing; 5 inches is safe for ATVs & snowmobiles; 8 inches to 12 inches is safe for small cars and light trucks; and 12 inches to 15 inches is good for medium-size trucks. Remember that ice thickness is never consistent. The top is flat, but the underside is not. Cloudy ice is usually not safe. Stay with the clear ice and remember that snow cover is not good for ice, as it acts as a blanket and can make soft ice.

Here are some basic safety guide lines for this ice season:

1) Never go out alone if you are new at ice fishing. Always go with someone with experience.
2) Wear a Personal Flotation Device under your snow gear, unless you are in a car.
3) Have proper footwear. Crampons are essential for walking out on the ice.
4) Always keep a pair of ice picks in your pocket, where they can be reached in an emergency.  
5) Carry a throw rope. You can make your own with a length of nylon rope, 50-100 feet, in a plastic jug.

We have had several early season accidents on the ice. Fortunately, all the fishermen were pulled out of the water safely. So please be careful out there. Until next time… keep a tight line.