DNR reporting varying ice thickness across state and is urging caution

Some parts of Minnesota have already seen anglers venturing out onto the lakes, but with the widely varied weather this month which has included rain, snow, and swinging temperatures, ice conditions are a bit unpredictable this year.

“The week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically the kickoff of the ‘wheelhouse season,’ and we anticipate it’ll be the same this year, especially in the northern part of the state,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director.

“Whether you’re walking onto the ice or hauling out a shelter you’ll sleep in, checking the ice thickness regularly is absolutely vital and one of the easiest ways to ensure tragedy doesn’t strike before you arrive at your fishing spot.”

The DNR is urging ice recreationists to check ice thickness with a spud bar, auger or other device before stepping out onto it, rather than relying on other footprints, track marks and social media posts.

Unexpected falls through thin ice can lead to serious injury or death.

The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:

  • 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
  • 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
  • 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
  • Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.

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