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Late ice
rusdialog

BTW...I've been criticized by a few people here on FB for what they consider my somewhat carefree attitude about the safety of late ice. I will say, it is a fair point, and I take a lot more chances than most casual fishermen should. So to correct the record:

1. Even in a season like this: ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE. Always remember that.
2. If you go out, make sure to wear a pair of hand ice spikes around your neck, and bring a big heavy spud bar/chipper to precede your path. I always have both of these with me during late and early ice. Both are cheap and will likely save your life if you go thru, God Forbid.
3. Leave the kids at home. Even though the bite may be smoking and the weather is nice, late ice is not the time to introduce your kids to ice fishing.
4. This season we had a really nice base of 2 feet plus with no snow, the base ice was/is nice, clear, black. It holds up good even during a week of warm weather. Having said that, if there is wind on the lake with warm temps, that will bust up even the best base layer of ice in a hurry. Wind creates waves under the ice, and that will bust up even the safest 2-3 feet of ice in a big hurry.
5. Right now, no one should be driving quads, snowmobile on the lakes. if you do, please drive slow. Tearing ass back to the landing creates waves and will create a soft area that a walker might go thru on- case in point, last week on West Rush, a walked went thru on a spot 50 wards from the public landing surrounded by three feet of ice, because some jack@ass snowmobiler decided to try to set a new ice speed record circling the bay. Not cool, @sshole.
6. Wear a floating suit or a slimline inflatable preserver. Yeah, the sun is hot out there, but if in doubt, you are gonna get out wearing one of the two.
7. Even if there is a lot of ice underneath, honeycombed is is a good indicator that you should get off now and call it a day. 8 inches of poorly layered and honeycombed surface ice is far less safe than 3 inches of good ice, the minimum standard for the average weight angler to walk on. (Personally, being a bigger fella, I wait for 5 to walk, during early ice, and 8 to start driving the quad on the ice.) Late ice, those rules go right out the window with honeycombed ice. Make sure you know what is good solid ice and what is not.
8. If you do go thru, keep your wits about you, and keep your head above water., Even a non-buoyant suit will offer you a modicum of floatation, about 45 seconds to a minute. Kick as hard as u can and go right back to the side where you went in. if you have handspikes, deploy them, and get yourself horizontal (not a hard as it sounds, even if you don't have handspikes), pull yourself back up onto the ice and roll yourself a good 10-15 yards in the direction you came; don't stand or kneel until you are well clear of where you went in.
9. If you are in the water for more than a minute or two, when the cold water soaks thru your suit, that's when that shock/gut punch to the solar plexus will occur; be prepared for it, it's not a pleasurable experience, but it is more of an "OK, gotta focus now" warning; you will be out of breath for 10-15 seconds; recover your breathing rhythm, keep your melon above water, don't panic, and you wil get out, to fish another day.
10. To answer my critics, and again, I feel critics are fine, I don't take offense, and as I said before they raise a legitimate and valid point. These tips are for experienced ice anglers that might go out earlier or later than Joe Family with his 2 kids that like to catch pike on tip-ups and snag some willing sunnies or crappies in the middle of January. If in doubt - there are so many experienced ice anglers in Minnesota and Wisconsin that one can find to guide you and your family/kids/work party to safe ice fishing lakes, at no cost. Check the popular FB Ice Fishing Forums MN, WI, MI, SD, ND, IA, MT, and other states to see on who will be on what late, at what time, during what day. You'll have a plethora of options and lakes, and will make new friends, get some great tips, and help preserve the great legacy we all share up here in the Ice Belt.

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