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'A fish is not worth your life'; Frozen lakes may seem solid, but some ice conditions are unsafe

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-25 14:45:29-05

MANITOWOC (NBC 26) — While many lakes across Northeast Wisconsin, like Silver Lake in Manitowoc, are currently frozen. Wisconsin DNR has a warning. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe on the ice.

  • Many lakes are frozen in Wisconsin, but the DNR says that ice conditions may be unsafe.
  • DNR Lieutenant Jake Holsclaw told me that ice can be thick in one spot, but thin just a few feet away.
  • Manitowoc fisherman, Blong Lee says that he stabs the ice to make sure it is thick enough.

Manitowoc fisherman Blong Lee was out on the ice Wednesday.
"i've been fishing for 10 years,” he said. "I am very used to the cold."

A veteran on the ice, Lee makes sure to bring a spud bar to check ice thickness.

"You make sure the ice is thick. Two, or three stumps and you're safe to go,” Lee said as he stabbed the ice. “But, if it goes through, then it's not safe."

But even with the precautions, Wisconsin DNR Lieutenant Jake Holsclaw says Lee, and other people who enjoy ice fishing or other activities on the ice, must still be careful.

"You could have one section of ice that easily supports a person, or maybe even a car,” said Holsclaw. “Just a few feet away you could have ice that is so thin."

Lieutenant Holsclaw says a warm December made for some very dangerous ice conditions. He says to bring a floatation device and study the body of ice before going on. But, if disaster strikes and you do fall in he says not to panic.

"You can just kick with your legs and remain calm,” explained Holsclaw. “Try to pull yourself out onto the ice that held you right before you went in. Then just roll away from that opening."

Both Lee and Holsclaw agree to bring a friend if you can, and most importantly, do not take any risks.

"Safety first,” says Lee. “A fish is not worth your life."

Wisconsin DNR says all bodies of water are different so be careful before you step on ice. Also, they say to make sure to carry a cell phone in case of an emergency.