SCHOFIELD, Wis. — There have been a lot of anxious anglers over the last week hitting the ice to hopefully take home some fish.
However, officials warn of the dangers of hitting the ice this early.
“Everybody’s chomping at the bit to get out there,” said Keith Syring, Co-Owner of Riverside Bait and Tackle.
Syring said he’s had a lot of customers coming in to prepare for the early ice fishing season.
“It started about a week ago when we had that real cold snap,” Syring said. “I think it got down in the single digits and the ice formed up pretty quick then. We’ve had reports of ice thickness up to five inches in certain spots, but of course the ice can vary according to the movement of the water and different conditions.”
Lt. Cody Wiesman with the Wausau Fire Department said the ice is changing everyday this time of year.
“There’s been more people going out there on the ice with the weather the way that it’s been,” Lt. Wiesman said. “Right now it’s probably anywhere from 2-4 inches depending on where you’re at, and we recommend that four inches is kind of the point where you can start to make your way out on the ice.”
Lt. Wiesman stated that you need to know how thick the ice is before you try to get out there on it, and sometimes the color of the ice can help.
“You’re going to be able to tell if you have a darker spot, then there’s probably not the thickness there,” Lt. Wiesman added. “So color and snow on the ice; that’s kind of like an insulation.”
“Then there’s also spots where the current can definitely do a number on that ice,” Syring added. “You can go literally from two inches to nothing. You have to know where you’re going in the early ice conditions and you have to be careful.”
If you do decide to go out on the ice, you’re also urged to use extreme caution, tell people where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone, limit the amount of gear you take out with you, and have a flotation device or suit as well.