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Paynesville Press - February 1, 2006

DNR issues another ice advisory

With unseasonably warm temperatures adversely affecting ice conditions across the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is advising winter anglers to check the ice around their fish houses and, if conditions warrant, to consider removing them while the ice is still strong.

The DNR is particularly concerned that larger wood and metal fish houses commonly left on the ice overnight can melt into the surface, making removal very difficult if the ice re-freezes, or sink if ice conditions continue to deteriorate.

"With daytime temperatures above freezing for several weeks, and in the mid-40s in the southern half of the state on Friday, people are going to have to be very careful if they plan on any motor vehicle ice travel," said Tim Smalley, DNR water safety specialist. "Even though it may still be 12 or more inches thick in some locations in the northern part of the state, the quality of the top layer of ice has degraded as far as weight-bearing capability, so you need to check the ice thoroughly every day. Nobody wants to die for a crappie."

Owners are legally responsible for removing their fish houses and any debris left after chopping them out of the ice. Littering penalties can include fines or civil penalties up to $2,000.

Anyone who ventures out on the ice still needs to check safety conditions before going out to their fish house, especially with a car or truck. Ice anglers and others who venture out on the ice are advised to call a local bait shop or a resort on the lake where they are heading to determine if vehicle use is advisable. Some DNR officers are recommending the use of ATVs to move fish houses rather than cars or trucks.

DNR conservation officers report "iffy" and "spotty" ice conditions on some lakes as far north as Bemidji with slush and ice thicknesses well below average.

According to state law, anglers have until the end of February in the southern half of the state and until March 15 in the northern half before they are required to have their fish houses off the ice by no later than midnight each day and not back on the ice until 6 a.m. the next morning.

"In normal winters we would have another six weeks, but this has been anything but a normal winter," Smalley noted.

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