Never too early for ice safety

Over the weekend I was sliding through some social media and saw a video of a couple of people bragging about being the first to be fishing out on the ice.
It struck me as being kind of dumb, for lack of a better word.
I know it’s been cold but the ice had only been on this particular lake for maybe a couple of days and I just couldn’t believe that going out on maybe a couple centimeters of ice to try and catch a fish was worth risking your life for.
Worse, the person who made this video has a large following on social media and I feel like people who don’t have as much experience with ice conditions may try and do the same thing, when it is not safe.
When I was younger I was always eager to get out on the ice as soon as I could.
It was always exciting to get on a fresh sheet of ice but I was never that big on taking risks to go fishing.
I have fallen through bad ice in the spring, messing around with my friends in a controlled environment, around a dock.
We were expecting to get wet but what I learned was that it is a shock to the system when you hit that cold water.
Your muscles tighten up, your voice becomes weaker and if you weren’t expecting it, panic could set in quickly.
Unfortunately many people have lost their lives because they made some bad decisions out on the ice.
Thanks to more cold weather this week we’re faced with earlier than normal ice on most of the smaller bodies of water across the region.
Much of Lake of the Woods still seemed to be open early in the week but if the wind ever dies off I think a lot of the lake is ready to freeze over.
We have a long winter with plenty of time for ice fishing and a bunch of other activities out on the ice.
As winter continues to set in and more ice forms there are some general guidelines to follow for activities on the ice.
It is recommended that you wait until there is four inches of clear ice to walk on it, six inches for snowmobile or ATV use and 12 inches for trucks.
These are guidelines of course but you have to consider that if you venture out onto the ice and make a poor decision then require police or fire teams to try to rescue you, you are putting other lives in danger as well.
Just stay off the ice until it is safe everybody.
Another element to consider on the ice this year are the high water levels on nearly every body of water across the region.
What this means on many lakes is that there will be more current in neck-down areas or inflow and outflow areas, creating poor ice conditions.
The larger lakes like Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake have significant flow that runs through them all the time but it is stronger right now because of the high water so that is something to keep in mind this winter.
Avoid any of the narrow channels on these lakes and if you aren’t sure about where you’re going, don’t take any chances.
Once we do have safe ice, the fishing is usually excellent early in the season because many of the best fishing spots have not seen any angler activity in a few months and many of the crappies, walleyes and stocked trout are simply in the mood to eat.
A long season on the ice is coming, just remember to be safe when you decide to go.