SIOUX FALLS. S.D (KELO) — About 200 people were rescued from Upper Red Lake in northern Minnesota on Monday after an ice chunk broke free from shore. The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office says people were ice fishing when the chunk separated.
Nick Harrington with South Dakota Game Fish and Parks says South Dakota is in its early season for ice fishing. With fluctuating temperatures, ice conditions vary across the state.
“Not all ice is created equal to a lot of these water bodies might have springs that there’s a spring-fed area. So you might have an area that has eight inches of ice and then you go 100 feet and you might be on two inches of ice,” said Nick Harrington, Communications Director for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.
Harrington says the ice should be 4-5 inches thick if you’re walking on it, 8-10 inches thick for ATV’s, and over 15 inches thick if you’re driving.
“Just because there’s 20 inches ice out there does not mean there’s not a heave or a slush pocket, especially as we get some snow storms that might be concealed too,” Harrington said.
“Early ice is a little more difficult because you have areas where the geese have sat and kept the water open. So those can be soft spots and through the ice guys can go so you gotta be real careful with early ice,” Staab said.
Matt Staab, owner of Northview Bait and Tackle, says he has sold lots of safety equipment like ice picks, spud bars and rope for early fishing this year.
“These are ice picks. So when you fall through the ice- if you fall through the ice, you grab onto the ice with the ice picks. Then you pull yourself out- on the early ice- this is a smart thing to have with you.” Staab said.
Whether you are a seasoned ice fisherman or new to the game, it’s important to stay vigilant and watch your step.