SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An event that’s become a staple of winter in Sioux Falls has been canceled due to unsafe ice conditions.

“It was a tough day making that decision to cancel Ice Fish Fest,” Catfish Bay owner Jim Bruns said.

After hosting a record 1,200 participants last January, Catfish Bay has canceled this Saturday’s Ice Fish Fest due to uncertain ice.

“Walked out on the ice and there was a nice, beautiful blanket of white snow sitting out there and ultimately started walking around and we had six-, eight-, ten inches of water and slush underneath that snow,” Bruns said.

Bruns says things only got worse from there.

“A mess at best and as we started looking around we actually found some open spots of water,” Bruns said.

“That snow provides quite a bit of insulation for the ice, so it will prevent some extra growth from happening as well as create some slush pockets where when we got the rain and you get a little bit of melt runoff you get those slush pockets that aren’t always visible to the everyday fisherman,” Dakota Angler General Manager Josh Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp advises fishermen to stick to the beaten path on any given lake and if not, proceed with caution.

“It’s always best to maintain that trail; stay on that trail. If you do go off that trail, be drilling as you go off every 30 feet, 20 feet, whatever you feel is safe at that time. You don’t necessarily need a spud bar but walking out with the auger makes quite a bit of difference,” Heitkamp said.

And always carry ice picks.

“It’s something that just slips right over your head. It’s always there for you. If you do fall through the ice, all you have to do is pull them apart and then you stick them into the ice to help pull you out,” Heitkamp said.

As for Ice Fish Fest, Bruns says there’s always next winter.

“Better safe than sorry. We want to have a good experience for people that come out there and there’s next year. That’s how life works,” Bruns said.

Bruns says the last time Ice Fish Fest was cancelled was due to a lack of ice about ten years ago.

He adds that if you pre-registered for the event, you will receive a full refund.