DNR Urges Caution For Ice Fishing On Newly Frozen Lakes - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

DNR Urges Caution For Ice Fishing On Newly Frozen Lakes

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Cold temperatures in the last week have been enough to cover many area lakes with a layer of ice which means ice fishermen and women will start heading out. The Department of Natural Resources is urging caution on the newly frozen surfaces.

Conservation officers say no ice is 100 percent safe. We've seen what can happen, last winter in Iowa there were three deaths within a week. There was another in Knox County, Illinois around the same time. This year, with things starting to rapidly freeze over, it's expected a lot of fishers will want to hit the ice.

After spending much of December looking at green grass and open water, people like John Rieck and his son Henry are eager to get out on the ice. "Son came home, said he wanted to go ice fishing. I started preparing because I knew ice would start thickening up pretty well," said Rieck.

At Lost Grove Lake near Eldridge Rieck drilled a few test holes in the ice which measured about 5 inches thick. Conservation officers say that is great for being on the ice. "Generally we recommend four inches of ice for foot traffic," said Ed Kocal, Iowa DNR.

While Lost Grove Lake is in good shape and many others will be in another few days, that won't be the case everywhere. "Obviously the river is more variable because of the fluctuations in water levels," said Kocal.

He says the good thing is the layer formed after last week's snow, as the other way around can cause an insulating effect. With that there can be pockets of thin or newly formed ice. "Unfortunately ever year it seems like we do have some fatalities where people go through," added Kocal.

Cutting test holes near shore is an important safety measure, so is using the buddy system. Ice fishers also want to take along gear like a floatation coat or life jacket, ice cleats to get around easily, as well as ice picks and plenty of rope in case the worst should happen. 'Then you can hopefully get them pulled out or help pull them out."

The DNR recommends five inches for snowmobiling and ATV's. Conservation officers also recommend you search online for safety videos. Looking up "survival in the ice" can be a useful tool for anyone planning on ice fishing, snow mobiling or cross country skiing.

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