CLEAR LAKE, Iowa - If you have children out of school this week, they may be tempted to have fun on the ice.
But with recent warmer temperatures, and after four recent thin ice incidents in Central Minnesota which involved ice houses and ATV's falling through the ice, the Iowa and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources are warning people to use caution.
According to a recent report from the Iowa DNR, the ice on Clear Lake is about 8-11 in. thick (with most of it the western portion of the lake, including the McIntosh Woods area), though there are some spots where there is open water and/or very thin ice.
Eric Meyer of Clarion loves the serenity of sitting on the ice, peering below and waiting for a bite for crappie, yellow perch, and yellow bass.
"Some days it's been really hot, some days it's been really slow, and some days you get the really good bite."
But before he gets to his ideal spot, he watches where he walks and takes note on the color of ice, to verify its thickness.
"Some of the spots...if it's a little lighter, stay away. If it's a little darker, stay away."
Chris Scholl with Clear Lake Bait & Tackle is well versed in ice fishing, but knows the frozen terror of breaking through thin ice. He and his crew check the ice fairly regularly while also checking to see what's biting below.
"We do not recommend vehicle traffic. ATV stuff is OK right now, we're 9 to 12 inches, but in some places, there are some trouble spots. The channel, there's a couple spots by the island, just to avoid. And we show you here on a map, make sure everybody stays safe out there."
So before you head out, double check your gear.
"Make sure you have some kind of traction, ice cleats are a must. If you're going to be going into new areas, mud bars, spikes to pull yourself out if there were to be an incident. And floatation, life jackets are always good to have with you.
To verify ice thickness, the Minnesota DNR advises to check it with a chisel, auger or drill, and a tape measure about every 150 feet. It's always important to remember that ice is never 100% safe.
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