Lake Winnebago: Ice experts say the ice isn't thick enough for vehicles

Ice fishermen on Asylum Bay on Lake Winnebago, December 20, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- Many ice fishermen ventured out to Lake Winnebago over the weekend, but ice experts say the ice isn't thick enough for vehicles.

Every couple of days, Don Herman with Sunk Dive and Ice, checks the ice condition in Lake Winnebago.

In the last 37 years of ice service, Herman has helped pull out everything from trucks, ATVs and snowmobiles. He's responded to about 960 incidents. He hopes that number doesn't go up.

"We recommend people to stay off of lake Winnebago until we get this cold snap coming," Herman said.

He told FOX 11 the ice should be at least 12 inches thick for trucks. For ATVs, ice should be at least 6 inches; and to walk on ice, there should be be more than 2 inches.

"If you got 2 inches one place, you can still have 1 inch in some."

Herman said right now, Lake Winnebago varies from 2 to 7 inches.

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By next weekend, he expects ice to be safe enough for vehicles. But not all spots in Lake Winnebago will be solid.

"You want to stay away from Menasha, Jefferson park, the mouth of the river by Oshkosh; those are all bad spots, mouth of river by Neenah, any place where there's a river," said Herman.

Herman said this year, weather is helping with ice formation.

"What's great about this year is that we have hardly any snow on the lake, so nothings going to insulate it. This cold snap is going to come here and its going to make good ice. Really good ice in the next few days."

But the winter weather wasn't always this good for ice fishing.

Herman told FOX 11 in the last two years, ice melted quickly especially during Sturgeon spearing season.

"A couple years ago they didn't even go out, they had to spear in these bays."

Herman indicated that no matter how the weather looks this year, he's certain sturgeon spearing season will not be canceled.

He said because conditions can be unpredictable, it's important for people to remember ice is never 100 percent safe.

For more ice conditions you can visit the Otter Street Fishing Club Facebook page.

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