Early ice sparks some concern as fishermen venture out

Published: Nov. 18, 2019 at 9:01 PM CST
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It's rare for ice fishing season to start before this weekend's gun deer opener. However, it's happening, but some places just aren't safe right now.

On the shoreline of Lake Winnebago the ice is already visible, and in some places ice fishermen are having success even though local experts say the early cold weather hasn't been enough for most people to walk out safely.

"This is a month early. I mean, usually I'm not talking or going out on the ice until first week of December, second week of December, and that was just for walking ice. We don't normally drive out until first week, or second week of January," said Don Herman of Sunk? Dive and Ice Rescue.

Otter Street Fishing Club president Scott Engel added, "I've heard of a couple of ice fishermen by Skipper Bud's and a couple by Asylum Bay, but I think the smart ones are staying off."

On Lake Winnebago, there's about a half inch of ice stretching from shore to shore but there are holes.

In the bay, there's about three inches of ice but it's recommended you need at least four before venturing out.

"A lot of guys get excited for early ice. Typically that's some of the best pan fishing when you get early ice, but this is not good ice, at least not here. You know, maybe north of Green Bay, when you get north towards the upper Michigan area, we got some areas up there that are good I'm hearing but definitely not here," said Engel.

Plus, it's unusual to see ice fishing prior to deer hunting.

Herman noted, "Normally it's bow hunting, deer hunting, and ice fishing, but this year it's bow hunting, ice fishing and deer hunting, so people are getting their equipment out before deer hunting. I haven't seen this happen probably once in 40 years."

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