Why the wet fall could have anglers treading on thin ice this winter

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Ice fishing season in KELOLAND doesn’t come without some risks. The wet year across South Dakota could be making the ice more dangerous on lakes. So you need to take precautions before stepping onto the ice this winter.

“First fish of the year, right there. “Oh yeah!”

It didn’t take long for the first catch through the ice at The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls.

“We were out here for 10-minutes and pulled a little blue gill through the water, just the first fish of the year out here,” Cole Glanzer of Sioux Falls said.

Anglers are fishing on a safe 8-inches of ice blanketing the pond. But thickness varies across the state.

“In the southeast here, we’ve got about probably 4-6 inches of ice on most of our lakes and then as you go up north up toward, say, Arlington and that Lake Thompson area, they probably have 8-inches and then if you go to the northeast, they’re driving some vehicles on the ice there,” South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Dept. Fisheries Biologist Dave Lucchesi said.

Even experienced outdoorsmen like fisheries biologist Dave Lucchesi can misjudge the depth of the ice.

“I’ve fallen through three times in my life and I’ve gotten out every time of course, but it’s scary and I would recommend people be careful,” Lucchesi said.

You need to know how thick, or thin, the ice is before venturing onto the lake. That can involve drilling down with an auger to gauge the depth, or simply follow in the tracks of others who’ve been on the lake.

Luchessi says the ice might be thinner this year because the wet fall created stronger river currents that contribute to thin areas on lakes.

“Even though the ice may be thick around most of the lake, those areas may have that current, thin ice, and we could see a fair number of vehicles go through, so I would be very cautious this year,” Lucchesi said.

Lucchesi says the sun’s low enough in the sky at this time of the year to prevent a rapid melt during this warm spell. Still, it’s important to be aware on the ice, and watch your step.

“Warm weather, I’d definitely be a litte more cautious about walking out, check spots, see how deep th ice is before you go out,” Glanzer said.

The Outdoor Campus will host an ice fishing class next Thursday.

To find out how thick the ice needs to be to support a person, a snowmobile or a pickup, click here

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