DOOR COUNTY – This week’s deep freeze is making it easier for ice to form on area waterways.
That means ice fishing, snowmobiling, and other recreation will soon follow.
The Department of Natural Resources is turning to local experts, for advice about the ice.
Dozens of Ice shanties covered the frozen surface of Little Sturgeon Bay Wednesday.
The ice fishing season in Door County is just getting underway.
At Howie’s Tackle in Sturgeon Bay, Nick Nault checks ice conditions every day.
“Our phones were like ringing like crazy with guys from different parts of the state, and from Illinois, wanting to come up and go fishing,” said Nault.
Local fishing guide Jeff Weatherwax has been out on the ice.
“These bays, there’s anywhere from 10-14 inches in Little Sturgeon, Riley’s. You start getting out by these islands, that’s where it starts going,” said Jeff Weatherwax, Tite Line Fishing Charters.
The Department of Natural Resources does not monitor ice conditions. Wardens say tackle shops, guides, and other fishermen provide important ice condition information on a local level.
“All these conditions vary regionally. Because of the lake’s location, or because of the current underneath the ice, or maybe it’s a river. These conditions can change from 30 miles away,” said Jeremy Cords, DNR. Safety Warden.
Cords says ice is never entirely safe.
“So, if you have a layer of thick ice, and you have snow, and you have rain, what you end up with is kind of a honeycomb layer of bad ice.” he said.
Cords says at least four inches of ice are best for walking, and a foot or more is needed before people should even think about driving on the ice.
“When you go out there, it’s your responsibility to know what the ice conditions are, and ultimately you’re responsible for your own safety,” said Cords.
“There’s no fish worth getting wet or possibly even dying over,” said Weatherwax.
The DNR suggests people should carry a charged cell phone, and wear a life jacket.
Wardens say not to venture out on the ice alone, especially at night.