When South Dakota Ice Fishing Becomes Unsafe
For the most part, ice fishing has been great from December and most of January. But a recent trip to Lake Vermillion just west of Sioux Falls was challenging, to say the least. The snow cover and slush on the lake made it very difficult to pull the gear sled.
Driving out on the lake with my SUV was not even an option. Even ATVs and 4-wheelers were getting stuck. My sons often reminds me that we need a snowmobile but that's for another post.
But a few news stories really hit a chord in the last few days that should be a yellow caution flag for area ice fishermen.
1. Catfish Bay has canceled this weekend's Ice Fish Fest due to uncertain ice. The lake has a nice layer of snow on it but under that snow lies a lot of water and slush, according to Jim Bruns, owner of Catfish Bay. The official announcement says the rain and warm weather the area received several days ago and the insulating layer of old and new snow cause a safety risk, according to Dakota News Now.
2. Earlier this week, six vehicles went through the ice on a Minnesota Lake for parking too close to one another. The ice on Lake Pepin, south of Minneapolis, couldn't take the combined weight after land parking filled to capacity. Experts say that you should park at least 50 feet apart on a frozen lake to reduce the risk of going through. The adage "you're walking on thin ice, mister" sometimes takes a literal meaning.
It can also create a real headache dealing with your insurance company if your vehicle goes through the ice. I'm not sure many policies cover that. You may want to check with your agent but I wouldn't hold out hope.
A good rule of thumb comes from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) which has these recommendations:
You need at least 4" of ice for ice fishing on foot.
You need at least 5" of ice for snowmobile or ATV.
You need at least 8-12" of ice for small cars and small pickups.
You need at least 12 - 15" of ice for a medium sized truck or SUV.
There are still some great opportunities to hook some walleye, crappie, and perch on area lakes. But it may take some patience until we can get a good cold snap.
I snapped the pic below when ice fishing on Lake Vermillion. It was a fun day but the water and slush made it a bit of a challenge.