I Didn’t Listen to My Own Advice…

It wasn’t long ago that I wrote a post about preparing your equipment for the ice fishing season as we awaited “safe ice.” Among the list of things to do were to charge your battery for your flasher and set up your portable ice fishing shelter to check for damage.

I didn’t do either of these things before my first venture out on the ice this season. I got out to my spot, drilled my first hole, and dropped my transducer down. I marked fish for about two minutes before my battery died. Then, as I was setting up my pop-up shelter, the roof braces fell out. It was a cold and windy day and I had to listen to the roof flapping in the wind as I fished without a flasher.

Luckily, I was able to catch about a dozen fish and take home a couple of keepers, but it was not an enjoyable trip because I didn’t take my own advice. Check your gear before you leave. It’s easier to do it at home than managing malfunctions in below-zero temperatures in the middle of a frozen lake.

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I woke up to a heartbreaking story on the news this morning about a couple that fell through the ice on Upper Red Lake in central Minnesota over the weekend. Out of respect for the deceased, I don’t want to pass judgement on their actions. I don’t know the specifics of what happened. My goal in writing this is to prevent tragedies like what happened on Upper Red Lake from happening again.

Upper Red Lake is somewhat of a unique body of water for the area. It has a mean depth of about 12 feet. Because it is so shallow, it is often the first major lake in the area to freeze over. Its popularity as a walleye fishery draws in thousands of ice anglers every year. Upper Red Lake is a good choice for early season ice fishing. However, just because it is the first lake to freeze and it has more ice than other lakes in the area does not mean it should be treated as being any more safe than other lakes at early ice. No ice is safe ice. Read more

Ice Fishing is Coming Soon Enough… Be Safe!

The window for ideal fall fishing seemed to open and close more quickly than usual this year. High temperatures across much of the ice belt have been below freezing for about a week now. Some overnight lows have approached zero degrees. Skim ice has formed on ponds and the shallow bays of some lakes. This has some people champing at the bit to get out on hard water and drill their first holes of the year. Read more

Early Warm Up = Be Careful On the Ice

We got a little rain last week which softened up the ice in many places throughout the midwest. There was a lot of standing water on the ice where we were at in Southeastern North Dakota on Saturday and the ice was slushy. The ice fishing season isn’t over, but its days are limited. With several daytime highs above freezing in the forecast for the coming week, the ice conditions will continue to slowly deteriorate.

My biggest piece of advice for ice fisherman is to Read more