Recent warmer weather causing riskier ice conditions

Wisconsin DNR gives helpful tips when going out on the ice

Despite January-like weather kicking in, recent warmer weather has made going out on the ice more risky.

The Wisconsin DNR is urging people to take extra precaution if they go out on the ice.

Don Berra always makes sure he’s prepared before going ice fishing.

“If I’m iffy, I have a spud (bar) along or I don’t go out,” Berra said. “I like to go out early, but I don’t want to be the first one. I make sure, hopefully it’s safe.”

The shoreline tells him a lot about ice conditions.

“Water’s been coming up, so it’s been kinda weak over there,” Berra said.

The big concern is falling through the ice.

“I never have, luckily, no,” Berra said. “The least probably is losing all of your equipment. You go down, you’re probably sitting close to most of your stuff. Well, that’s going to go down too. So, if you’re lucky enough to get out, you’re lucky. But, it’s gonna be costly regardless.”

The Wisconsin DNR highly recommends to not freak out and act rapidly if a person falls through the ice. They also say to not take off any winter gear, as it can help with floating and staying warmer.

“You always wanna go back to where you came, because that’s the safest ice,” DNR conservation warden Dale Hochhausen said. “You wanna kick your feet, get yourself up, kinda horizontal and pull yourself up on the ice that way.”

So Hochhausen recommends people have some tools handy, including spikes, a spud bar, flotation device, and ropes.

“I never tell people ice is good, because you can hit a weak spot,” Hochhausen said. “Ice conditions right now are usually, we’ve got about six inches of ice. But it can vary dramatically from place to place.”

And as long as Berra is prepared, he’s ready to set the hook.

“I mean a good day on the ice is better than a bad day at work or whatever it is,” Berra said. “It’s enjoyable to me.”

Hochhausen says to walk on the ice when it’s three to four inches thick. He says to drive an ATV or UTV on six inches of ice or more, and a car or truck on at least 12-15 inches of ice.