Open water on Shawano Lake prompts warning to stay away

Shawano Lake open water view from SkyFOX, December 12, 2018 (WLUK/David Duchan)

SHAWANO COUNTY (WLUK) -- A warning from authorities about dangerous ice conditions on Shawano Lake.

The open water has the Shawano County Sheriff's Office asking people to stay away.

At 6,215 acres, Shawano Lake is one of the biggest bodies of water in the area. Ice started forming around the shoreline about three weeks ago. But a view from SkyFox shows the lake is far from frozen.

"I bet you it was a mile, maybe even two miles long. All the way from like Cecil Point, all the way to the island, which I know some of that has frozen up," said Cory Kuhn, Kuhn's Bait and Tackle Palace.

On Wednesday afternoon, there was still plenty of open water north of the Sandy Lane access point.

"It's scary, any place you have it," said Kuhn.

Kuhn says the snowfall will have an impact. Open water will still be visible, but all the ice forming around the lake will be covered in a fresh coat of white.

"You're not really going to know, and you're not going to know if one of them spots is froze over, say last night, well, that might only have a half an inch of ice on it. Some might have froze over five days ago, that might have three inches of ice on it," said Kuhn.

Fishermen were out testing their luck near Cecil and on the western end of the lake, where Mark Phillips was gearing up for an early trip onto the ice.

"We're going to do a little tip up fishing. A little bit of jigging for some bluegills," said Mark Phillips, Clintonville.

Phillips says there are about eight inches of ice where he was fishing. He says he is aware of the open water.

"That's why we're only going out probably 40-50 yards out, and then once the ice conditions get better, then we'll start moving out," said Phillips.

Judging from the open water in the middle of the lake, that won't happen any time soon.

Authorities warn everyone that ice is never considered 100-percent safe. Before venturing out onto the ice, it is a good idea to check with local bait shops for up-to-date conditions.

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