Colder-than-average November weather brought an early freeze to the Minnesota lakes before December.
Many Minnesotans are capitalizing on the early freeze by ice fishing earlier than is normal for this time of year.
While not completely unheard of in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, pre-December ice fishing has been rare for many years. In most years, some light foot traffic is possible in November, but Medicine Lake bait shop owner Joe Harty has already measured the ice at seven inches. His bait shop will be opening a full 18 days sooner than last year.
“November is deer-hunting time,” Harty said in an interview. “We’re not supposed to be ice fishing now.”
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends following these ice thickness rules to be safe this season:
- 2 inches or less is unsafe
- 4 inches for foot traffic
- 5 inches for snowmobiles or ATVs
- 8 to 12 inches for cars or small trucks
- 12 to 15 inches for large trucks
It’s important to keep these numbers in mind as a rough guideline, but ice is never 100 percent safe to walk or drive on. Emergency responders have had to rescue several individuals already this year. In addition, ice thicknesses vary from lake to lake, and even within the same water body. The best and safest bet is to talk to experts at local bait shops who can give updates before you venture out.
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