Some lakes and ponds in northern Iowa already have ice thick enough to support ice fishing, while elsewhere, you can still see open water. Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa DNR Fisheries Bureau, says it’s early in the season and area residents who love ice fishing have to be patient, or head north. Larscheid says Iowans are a hardy people and despite the frigid temperatures, they love ice fishing. He calls the sport “the great equalizer.”
It’s still technically fall, as the first day of winter this year is December 21st. Especially when it’s this early, ice anglers need to make sure safety is their top priority, and there are a few simple rules to follow.
He’s quick to add, no ice is 100-percent safe, while new ice is usually stronger than old ice. The DNR says river ice is 15% weaker than lake ice, while ice with a bluish color is safer than clear ice. Larscheid says ice anglers should never go out alone, and always let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll return.
The DNR recommends a minimum of four inches of clear ice for fishing and at least five inches for snowmobiles and ATVs. Larscheid also suggests wearing a life jacket, bringing a whistle to call for help, and an extra set of clothes, including gloves.