DNR: Check ice thickness, practice social distancing from other anglers during ice fishing season

With ice fishing season underway in Minnesota, officials are reminding anglers to check the ice thickness before heading out and keep themselves and others safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says anglers should check the ice thickness regularly, as conditions can change quickly. 

The recommended minimum thickness for walking on new, clear ice is 4 inches. The DNR recommends waiting until the ice is 5-7 inches thick before heading out on an ATV or snowmobile, 8-12 inches for a car and 12-15 for a truck. For white or snow-covered ice, double those minimums should be doubled.

The DNR also offered the following safety tips: 

  • Wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice (except when in a vehicle)
  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure
  • Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon
  • Don’t go out alone; tell someone about trip plans and expected return time
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts

The DNR says if you see someone fall through the ice, call 911. Do not attempt a rescue. Instead, throw the person any piece of buoyant gear available as well as a rope or another object to pull them out of the water or away from thin ice. 

Amid the pandemic, the DNR is also asking anglers to practice social distancing while ice fishing by staying at least 6 feet from members of other households at public access sites and on the ice and avoid busy times of the day or week.