Know the lake: staying safe while ice fishing

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Ice fishing can be a popular pastime during the winter months, but how do you stay safe and what happens if your vehicle falls through the ice?

From chainsaws and four-wheelers to a machine he built himself, Tom Bunker, owner of Bunker Auto in Arlington, has all the tools to help people out if the ice just doesn’t hold up.

“We made all this stuff. It’s lighter than taking a tow truck out there and it will lift as much,” Tom Bunker, owner of Bunker Auto, said.

Bunker’s been towing since 1982, and says he’s learned a lot over the years. So far this winter, he’s only had to pull out two vehicles but he has had some years where that number is over 20.

“If the fish aren’t biting, they’re not out there and the weather hasn’t been good for ice fishing this year,” Bunker said.

So how do you keep from seeing him and his towing family during your ice fishing expeditions?

“Don’t be out there in the dark, know the lake, you’ll be fine,” Bunker said.

Knowing your lake is the name of the game, according to both Bunker and Bill Baxter, an employee at M and W Bait and Tackle in Sioux Falls.

“If you don’t know how thick the ice is, don’t be driving that rig out there. I mean, we’ve had reports, people going through and people going through recently, going places they shouldn’t have been, didn’t know how thick the ice was,” Bill Baxter, employee at M & W Bait and Tackle, said.

Baxter suggests making sure the ice is at least 16 inches deep before heading out in a vehicle.

Baxter also says it’s good to take more caution as Spring approaches.

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